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New Delhi: Ahead of the BRICS summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin has extolled the increase in the sale of oil to India and China, as well as rising trade with the members of the loosely-held group of emerging economies, since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In a speech to the BRICS business forum, he stated that contacts between Russian business circles and the rest of the countries in the group have “intensified”. The BRICS group comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Leaders from the five countries addressed the BRICS business forum, organised a day before the annual summit.
“It is important that, despite all the problems and difficulties, BRICS business circles have been consistently enhancing mutually beneficial ties in the areas of trade, finance, and investment. For example, in the first three months of this year, trade between the Russian Federation and the BRICS countries increased by 38 per cent – and reached USD 45 billion,” he said.
Since Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24, the United States, Europe, Australia and Japan have imposed extensive sanctions on Russia, especially to curb the sale of its oil.
The Russian president noted that Moscow was currently in talks for the opening of Indian chain stores and importing Chinese cars into Russia.
“In its turn, Russia’s presence in the BRICS countries is growing. There has been a noticeable increase in the exports of Russian oil to China and India,” he said.
Russia has been trying to offset the loss of western markets by increasing trade with India and China.
India has taken a neutral stance on the Ukraine war, refusing to criticise Russia publicly and abstaining from various United Nations resolutions condemning Moscow. It has also deflected criticism from western countries, arguing that Europe continues to be a customer of Russian crude.
In May, Russia became India’s second-biggest oil supplier, pushing Saudi Arabia into third place but still behind Iraq at number one.
Similarly, China’s crude oil imports from Russia rose by 55% in May compared to the previous year, turning Moscow into its largest supplier.
Putin also said Russia was developing alternative mechanisms for international financial settlements jointly with its BRICS partners.
“The Russian Financial Messaging System is open for connection with the banks of the BRICS countries. The Russian MIR payment system is expanding its presence. We are exploring the possibility of creating an international reserve currency based on the basket of BRICS currencies,” he said.
In his address, Chinese President Xi Jinping criticised the West for imposing unilateral sanctions which impact the global economy.
“Major developed countries should adopt responsible economic policies and avoid negative policy spillovers that may take a heavy toll on developing countries. It has been proved time and again that sanctions are a boomerang and a double-edged sword. To politicise the global economy and turn it into one’s tool or weapon, and wilfully impose sanctions by using one’s primary position in the international financial and monetary systems will only end up hurting one’s own interests as well as those of others, and inflict suffering on everyone,” he said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not mention the Ukraine war or its consequences in his address to the BRICS business forum.
He asserted that his government’s policies have led to India recovering from the “economic problems arising from the pandemic”.
“And the results of this approach are evident from the performance of the Indian economy. This year, we are expecting 7.5% growth, which makes us the fastest growing major economy,” he said.