Russia’s Foreign Policy in the BRICS Framework

Similar Posts

This post is also available in: Türkçe Русский

In the process of transition from a unipolar world order controlled by the United States of America (USA) to a multipolar world order, Washington’s hegemony has been challenged by many actors. Among these actors, Russia is quite remarkable. As a matter of fact, Moscow has become relatively stronger during the Putin era and has taken bold steps in foreign policy. Russia has been striving for an alternative power center against both the long-standing containment policy and the political and economic international system dominated by the West. The Russia-Ukraine War is one of the outcomes of this power competition, which is fundamentally shaped by security discourses.

Russia entered the conflict with Ukraine because of the Kiev government’s efforts to deepen its relationship with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This struggle was interpreted by the West as a violation of the principle of sovereign equality. In this context, many sanctions were imposed on Russia and military and economic support was provided to Ukraine. However, these sanctions are not unilateral. In fact, the relationship between Russia and Europe is quite strong in terms of energy and grain. Therefore, Moscow uses these two strategic commodities as leverage.

As a result, political and economic competition has accelerated. On the one hand, the Putin administration continues the struggle shaped over Ukraine, and on the other hand, it strives to change the power imbalance in the global system. In particular, it is in various contacts with BRICS actors, which are interpreted as the voice of the Global South. The economic and political influence of these actors and their visibility in the international system have been increasing recently. It can be argued that BRICS has recently become quite popular, especially due to their support for developing countries and their attitudes towards the West. In fact, 23 countries have requested to join the platform. Among them, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates were accepted.[1] 

Russia is one of the actors pushing for the expansion of BRICS. Moscow’s main motivation for this is its desire to create a sphere of influence where it can act relatively easily against Western sanctions. This is because the West wanted to eliminate it through sanctions due to its struggle in Ukraine. However, the Putin administration has sought to deepen its relations with alternative actors. The expansion of BRICS can be read as a facilitating factor for this deepening.

An important issue that needs to be emphasized is the food and energy problem that emerged with the war in Ukraine. While Western actors impose sanctions on Russia, Moscow shapes its foreign policy through food and energy factors and uses them as leverage. In this context, Russia left the Black Sea Grain Corridor Agreement[2], which led to an increase in food prices.

Recently, the West’s authority in Africa has been weakening and Moscow has been seeking influence and markets. Therefore, the Putin administration has expressed its willingness to deepen ties with African countries and to continue to be a reliable partner in the supply of food and fuel[3].   At this point, it can be stated that Moscow is trying to deepen its relations with the Global South while pushing the West by instrumentalizing food and energy. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov’s claim that 13,000 tons of grain were destroyed in the Russian attack on the port of Izmail is evidence of this coercion[4].

While the expansion of the BRICS has led to the rise of views that the unipolar world order will come to an end, it can be argued that Russia is trying to take advantage of this situation as much as possible and wants to be one of the centers of gravity in the new order. Indeed, Moscow’s willingness to host the next BRICS summit could be seen as a symbolic response to its absence from the last BRICS summit due to the arrest warrant issued against Russian President Vladimir Putin by the International Criminal Court, which also binds South Africa[5].

Russia is basically maneuvering to break the political influence of the United States. Considering the BRICS actors’ relations with Washington, it is likely that Russia will build cooperation on this opposition. Although Russia is going through a difficult process with the sanctions it has suffered, it can benefit from the expansion of BRICS in the long run. Indeed, given the role of Russia and the new BRICS members, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, in energy, cooperation between these actors could turn into a strategic advantage over the West.

As a result, Russia wants to see an end to American hegemony and is accelerating its efforts to do so. The war in Ukraine can be seen as one of the outcomes of this situation. Moscow uses energy and food as leverage against Western sanctions against it. It can be argued that Russia sees BRICS as a tool in the process towards a new world order. Because through BRICS, it has the opportunity to deepen its relations with the neighboring states, especially through anti-Westernism.

[1] “BRICS Welcomes New Members in Push to Reshuffle World Order”, Reuters,, (Date of Accession: 25.08.2023).

[2] “Russia’s Lavrov To BRICS: No Signs of West Abiding by Russian Part of Grain Deal”, Reuters,, (Date of Accession: 24.08.2023).

[3] “Putin To BRICS: Russia Is ‘Reliable Partner’ For Africa on Food, Fuel Supplies”, Reuters,, (Date of Accession: 24.08.2023).

[4] “Russia Destroys 13,000 Tons of Grain at Ukrainian Danube River Port of Izmail- Minister”, Reuters,, (Date of Accession: 23.08.2023).

[5] “Путин понуди следниот Самит на БРИКС да се одржи во Русија”, Slobodenpecat,, (Date of Accession: 24.08.2023).