World

BRICS leaders agree to expand membership at summit

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“TURBULENCE AND TRANSFORMATION”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, on just his second trip abroad this year, said expanding the bloc would “pool our strength (and) pool our wisdom to make global governance more just and equitable.”

“We gather at a time when the world is undergoing major shifts, divisions, and regrouping. It has entered a new period of turbulence and transformation,” said Xi, whose nation represents about 70 percent of the BRICS total GDP.

US officials have played down the likelihood of BRICS emerging as a geopolitical rival, describing the bloc as a “very diverse collection of countries” containing both friends and rivals.

The BRICS are a disparate mix of big and small economies, democratic and authoritarian states, but share a collective desire to challenge the Western-led global order they say does not serve their interests or rising clout.

The summit has underlined divisions with the West over the war in Ukraine, and the support Russia enjoys from its BRICS partners at a time of global isolation.

South Africa, China and India have not condemned Russia’s invasion while Brazil has refused to join Western nations in sending arms to Ukraine or imposing sanctions on Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who faces an international arrest warrant over alleged war crimes in Ukraine, was the only BRICS leader not to attend in person, and addressed the summit via video link where he railed against sanctions.

Russia was “desperate for friends and partners so it’s not surprising that they are so keen to have an expansion,” said Gustavo de Carvalho, senior researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs.

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