As the West strives to cut economic connections, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia is rerouting commerce to “trusted international partners” such as Brazil, India, China, and South Africa.
“We are actively engaged in reorienting our trade flows and foreign economic connections toward dependable international partners, mainly the BRICS countries,” Putin stated in his opening video speech to the virtual BRICS Summit attendees.
The acronym “BRICS” refers to a loose grouping of five developing economies.
According to Putin, commerce between Russia and the BRICS countries surged by 38% in the first three months of the year, reaching $45 billion.
“Contacts between Russian business circles and the BRICS business community have intensified,” Putin added. “For example, talks are underway to open Indian chain stores in Russia [and] to enhance the market share of Chinese cars, equipment, and hardware.”
Russia is also increasing oil exports to China and India, who have been buying barrels at steep discounts. In May, China’s crude imports from Russia reached a new high, dethroning Saudi Arabia as the country’s leading supplier.
Putin went on to say that Russia’s communications system for financial institutions is open to connecting banks from the five countries, and that Moscow is looking for new ways to transact without relying on currencies like the dollar or the euro.
“We are building reliable alternative methods for international settlements with BRICS partners,” Putin added.
Putin criticized the West of ignoring “fundamental principles of [the] market economy,” such as free trade, in his speech.
“It weakens global commercial interests, badly hurting the well-being of individuals, and thus all countries,” he stated.
The BRICS summit, sponsored by Beijing, is Putin’s first foreign meeting with the leaders of other major economies since launching the invasion of Ukraine in late February.
Western sanctions have cut Russia off from vast sections of the world economy, plunging the country into a deep recession. However, Moscow continues to profit from exports, particularly as energy costs climb. According to the International Energy Agency, Russian oil export profits increased to almost $20 billion in May.