Verified. BRICS – Russia’s Answer to NATO?: RUSpropaganda Rhetoric, debunked

Written by Volodymyr Solovian, Head of HWAG

Propaganda Digest: This is our weekly analysis that exposes the most exaggerated, misleading, and outrageous rhetoric from recent Russian media sources. The digest is aimed at promoting critical thinking to better debunk the dangerous manipulation of Russian propaganda.

Shift in Alliances: the End of US Supremacy

BRICS, originally created for economic cooperation, is transitioning into a political body. It’s gradually becoming the platform for addressing political matters in nations outside the Western sphere. The United States wields significant global influence and seeks to impose its rules. For countries beyond the Western alliance to break free from this dependency, cooperation, unified stances, and collective action are essential. This unity marks a crucial step towards liberation from the authoritarian control of the United States.

Sergey Mikheyev

Middle Eastern monarchies are increasingly aligned with Russia and its BRICS allies, and the US has nothing to offer to keep them loyal. The only thing the United States has to “offer” is the whip.

Andrey Klintsevich


The Kremlin is using the topic of accession of new countries to BRICS to reinforce the narrative of forming a global coalition to combat “Western expansionism.” Yet again Russian propaganda disregards reality. 

Among the organization’s new members are several long-time US Middle Eastern allies, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. All of them cooperate closely with Washington voluntarily: as of early 2024, the US military contingent in the UAE numbered 3,500 military officials and approximately 2,700 US troops stationed in the SAR. Moreover, Egypt continues to be one of Washington’s largest recipients of foreign military aid, and in September 2023, it hosted Exercise ‘Bright Star’, which included 1,500 US soldiers. Furthermore, the armies of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt are primarily equipped with American weapons, such as aircraft tanks, air and missile defense systems, artillery, and so on.  

Therefore, even amid formal reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran (an agreement to resume diplomatic relations was reached with China’s mediation in March 2023), the United States plays an important role in limiting Tehran’s regional expansion. It supports the security of Gulf partner countries, which continue to face threats from Iranian-backed militant groups in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Thus, not all of Moscow’s new BRICS partners will agree with the thesis that Washington can only offer the “whip” to its allies. In fact, the US military presence in the region serves as an effective deterrent to the spread of terrorist organizations and pro-Iranian proxies

Instead, BRICS is an economic cooperation organization with limited ability to influence current security challenges. Thus, there is currently no reason to believe that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt see participation in BRICS as a means of severing military and technical ties with Washington.

Unrealistic Ambitions

Russia assumed leadership of BRICS yesterday, which has grown by five members. For the presidency, we have big, grandiose plans. 

Maria Zakharova

Our BRICS presidency is an honorable role, and it is advantageous and timely in terms of the pressure applied to Russia. For the past two years, they have been attempting to convince us that the entire world has abandoned Russia. But we lead a massive organization that represents more than half of the world’s population. Furthermore, about 30 countries want to join. Western countries have reached their limit; they are in the core and are acting on inertia.

Alexei Yaroshenko is a political scientist and the director of the Centre for Expert Support of Political Processes.

The world is changing, but it is also forming centers of influence that bring countries together. Already on BRICS’s list! We are not afraid to offer our own technologies to help these countries develop. Not cheap goods, not Pepsi-Cola and hand-painted pictures, but the real thing, something that allows these countries to see themselves as completely sovereign.  

Alexander Babakov, Deputy Speaker of the State Duma

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  • Debunked:

    The Kremlin uses BRICS’s platform to project Russia as a global power in the international arena. However, even within BRICS, Russia’s economy is smaller than Brazil’s in terms of GDP and several times smaller than the economies of such heavyweights as India and China. Despite the fact that BRICS member countries currently account for 25.6% of global GDP, growth is being driven by China (18% of global GDP in 2022) and India (3.2%). Russia’s share of global GDP has remained virtually unchanged over the last 20 years, standing at 1.7%. Such a position in the global economy is disproportionate to the Kremlin’s political ambitions, so Russian leaders are attempting to bolster their claims to the West by wrapping them in the guise of international forums involving China. 

    Russia may use its BRICS presidency in 2024 to try to incorporate criticism of sanctions and Western “voluntarism” into the organization’s priorities. However, the BRICS format excludes supranational bodies that could influence member governments’ policies. The organization brings together countries that are competing globally (China-India) or regionally (Iran-Saudi Arabia). Nevertheless, BRICS lacks an institutional framework for resolving economic and political contradictions.

    Furthermore, it’s crucial to take into account China’s predominant position within the association, a point Moscow is ‘tactfully silent’ on. The significant economic gap between China and the other members heavily influences the organization’s policies, aligning with Beijing’s stance. For instance, after sanctions were imposed on Moscow in 2022, BRICS’s New Development Bank ceased initiating new projects in Russia, echoing the decreased engagement of major Chinese banks in Russia (Bank of China, ICBC, and China Construction Bank).

    Unrealistic Ambitions: Sports

    “… we plan to hold ‘the BRICS Games’ in June 2024. We will be glad to welcome athletes from the countries of the organization to the International Multi-Sport Tournament Games of the Future, which will be held next year in Kazan. The apogee of the Russian year in BRICS will be the summit, which will be held in October 2024.” 

    Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

    We now have competitions called “Friendship Games” and “the BRICS Games,” in which athletes will receive titles similar to those seen at the Olympic Games. The title of honored master of sports. Coaches will receive titles and bonuses in addition to the same prizes. 

    Irina Viner, President of the All-Russian Rhythmic Gymnastics Federation and the head coach of the Russian national team.


    Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian sports faced sanctions, meaning the aggressor state missed out on competing in important international team sports. It quickly became clear, as the conditions for admitting Russian athletes to individual competitions were significantly tightened, that Russia’s isolation in sports would eventually become absolute. Consequently, the Kremlin regime has forfeited one of its most influential soft power tools: projecting a positive image of Russia through sports.

    In response, Russian ideologues adopted Soviet practice. Moscow launched the “World Friendship Games 2024,” reminiscent of the USSR’s “Friendship-84” event organized in reaction to the boycott of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. However, the “Games of Aggressors” orchestrated by Moscow are struggling to attract participants; only Belarus, Eritrea, and the DPRK have shown interest, rendering the competitions unappealing and lacking in competitiveness. Furthermore, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) advised national Olympic committees to disregard the World Friendship Games. After that, Moscow’s BRICS “allies” expressed no interest in the Russian pseudo-Olympics. 

    Faced with the threat of increased isolation and degradation of the sports industry, Russian officials are grasping at the last straw: the “BRICS Games” project, invented in Moscow and set to take place in June of this year. Under the guise of an international economic cooperation organization, the Kremlin intends to include Chinese athletes in joint competitions, as other BRICS countries are unable to compete in most Olympic sports with Russia. However, Beijing is unlikely to be interested in such an oxymoron as sports competitions under the flag of  economic organization. This is primarily because China is committed to achieving the best possible results in the international Olympic movement. As a result, Beijing’s plans do not include clashing with the IOC over the politicization of sport in order to appease its “younger comrades” in Moscow.

    Argentina Made a Mistake

    Well, F*ck off. From the bottom of my heart. Argentina’s President officially declined the invitation to join BRICS in letters to the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.

    Armen Gasparyan

    According to Venezuela’s president, the move will return Argentina to the nineteenth century, transforming it into “a vassal of the imperial, unipolar world, a new colony from South America.” 

    Venezuelan President, Shared by Evgeny Muraev Telegram Channel;

    “Mr. Millet is a staunch pro-American president, and the US does not require Argentina to join the BRICS. However, Argentina’s relations with Brazil and China suffer as a result of its refusal to join the BRICS. From the standpoint of national interests, this is an unpopular decision. There are already groups in Argentina looking for ways to remove Mr. Millet from power. Another reason for his resignation is his decision not to join the BRICS.

    Alexey Zubets, Director of the Institute of Socio-Economic Research at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation


    The invitation to a group of countries, including Argentina, to join the BRICS on January 1, 2024, was announced at the Johannesburg (South Africa) summit last August. 

    However, Argentina’s newly elected leader, Javier Milei, has shifted the country’s foreign policy toward rapprochement with the West. Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Diana Mondino, described the refusal to join BRICS as “optimizing the use of time.” “If you participate in all these organizations, when do you work?” Ms. Mondino summarized. Thus, the new Argentine government has given a clear indication of BRICS’ impracticality. 

    Today, many experts are skeptical of the prospects of an organization with no clear membership criteria. Let us quote Jim O’Neill, the British economist and financier who coined the term “BRICS” (article Does an Expanded BRICS Mean Anything,? August 2023):

     “…since the Brazilian and Russian foreign ministers proposed the creation of an official BRICS political grouping in 2009, I have questioned the organization’s purpose beyond a symbolic gesture. Now that the BRICS has announced that six more countries will join it – Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates…. – it appears that this decision was made without any clear objective, let alone economic, criteria. Why, for example, was Indonesia not asked? Why Argentina, not Mexico, Ethiopia, not Nigeria?”

    Challenges to the Dollar

    So far, no one in the world has been able to coordinate the position situation with the West’s political and military issues because we are all drug addicts to the dollar, allowing the Americans to continue their political experiments indefinitely.

    Sergey Mikheyev

    It was our country’s mission, not to be the main [player], but to be the first to make this breakthrough, to declare the economy’s de-dollarization. Not because we dislike the US, but because we will not allow them to use economic ties as a tool of dictatorship and pressure, which is what the dollar has become.

    Maria Zakharova


    Russian propaganda routinely employs the BRICS theme to spread the narrative of “de-dollarization of the world economy.” However, the organization’s main financial institution, the New Development Bank, is in no hurry to heed the Kremlin’s demands. 

    As of 2023, the NDB’s lending in local currencies is 22%, with the institution aiming for 30% by 2026. According to NDB CFO Leslie Maasdorp, de-dollarization has limitations because the dollar is the bank’s working currency “for a very specific reason” and has the highest liquidity. Furthermore, the head of the Bank of Russia described the creation of a single BRICS currency as a “difficult project” that would require the approval of “many parties.”

    So, as usual, Russian propaganda is just wishful thinking.