BRICS has no plans to form a military and political alliance, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday, in an apparent effort to allay apprehensions of the West.
He, however, emphasised that the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, having "coinciding strategic interests", wants to change the global monetary order which depends a lot on the US dollar.
"I would like to stress that we do not have any plans to form a BRICS military and political alliance," Putin said ahead of the summit of the five-nation grouping in Russia’s Ufa which will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders of the member countries.
Putin's remarks came as Moscow is locked in a bitter standoff with the West over the Ukraine crisis that has seen him given the cold shoulder by the European Union and the United States.
He said the BRICS countries intend to strengthen the political element of their cooperation and for that the member nations will develop the practice of mutual consultations and joint actions in international organisations, beginning with the United Nations.
"In the long term, we will create a virtual BRICS secretariat," he said in an interview to Russian news agency Tass.
Asked how solid a union of countries could be if the majority of them do not have common borders, the Russian President said, "In the modern world, the factor of common borders does not play a defining role. On the contrary, global processes encourage us to join efforts as challenges and problems become shared. In the BRICS case we see a whole set of coinciding strategic interests." He said the first common intention is to reform the international monetary and financial system.
"In the present form, it is unjust to the BRICS countries and to new economies in general. We should take a more active part in the IMF and the World Bank's decision-making system. The international monetary system itself depends a lot on the US dollar, or, to be precise, on the monetary and financial policy of the US authorities. The BRICS countries want to change this," Putin said.
"Another long-term common interest of the association's members is strengthening the rule of international law and the UN's leading role in the international system. To be honest, without Russia's and China's principled position on Syria in the Security Council the events in that country would have followed the Libyan and Iraqi scenario," he said.
Talking about the BRICS' New Development Bank, he said the initiative to establish it is aimed at expanding cooperation in this sphere.
“In the year since the Durban Summit, we have managed to achieve significant progress in this direction. In the near future, we expect to finalise all the remaining issues and we will be able to use this Bank's potential to realise major projects in our countries," he said.
Putin said another important initiative that is underway is creating a BRICS pool of foreign currency reserves. "It will become a safety net to help us form a joint response to economic challenges."
The Russian president underlined that that both the New Development Bank and the foreign currency reserves pool are practical steps for the BRICS countries, "intended to strengthen international financial architecture and to make it more balanced and just."
Image: PM Narendra Modi meets Russia's Vladimir Putin ahead of the BRICS summit. Photograph: ANI/Twitter