Giorgio Spagnol
Date de publication: 


BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and SCO ( Shanghai Cooperation Organization: China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan  ) have become a new pole of power in the world and their role is becoming more significant every day.

The number of countries wishing to join  BRICS  and SCO has witnessed a sharp increase in recent years, currently reaching up to 20.

Iran and Argentina are joining BRICS while Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Senegal, the United Arab Emirates, and Thailand are also knocking.  The anti-West (and anti-dollar) front grows.

A process of bringing together countries not aligned with the US comes from afar, from the creation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in 2001, an outgrowth of the Shanghai Five, a mutual security agreement concluded in 1996 between China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.

According to Zbigniew Brzezinski’s theory, control of the Eurasian mainland is the key to global domination and control of Central Asia is the key to control of the Eurasian mainland: Russia and China have been paying attention to Brzezinski’s theory.

Current situation

After Russia started its special military operation in Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the world has split into those who support Moscow and accuse NATO of provoking the conflict, and those who condemn Russia’s actions and impose sanctions on the country, while also ramping up their financial and military aid to Kiev. Some countries have also taken a neutral position on the issue.

Like it or not, the BRICS as a global governance architecture representing the Global South is here to stay with an expanded policy agenda. The BRICS may even try to entrench their unique role by developing an alternative global financial system that is not based on the US dollar.

The synergies between the BRICS and the SCO are particularly salient. Three of the five BRICS members are SCO members and the SCO has been looking into economic and financial cooperation since 2006. Members of the SCO have also considered establishing an SCO Development Bank and an SCO Development Fund mirroring the BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB).

An expanded BRICS including the nations above  would possess about 45% of known global oil reserves and over 60% of all known global gas reserves. Its combined GDP as of today would amount to USD 29.35 trillion, making it considerably larger than the United States economy at USD 23 trillion and double that of the European Union’s USD 14.5 trillion.

The new members identified above would add  1 billion consumers to the BRICS & SCO family, for a total of 4.257 billion,  over 50% of the total global population.

In this context it is worthwhile to have a close look at the NATO’s Strategic Concept  and at the 14th BRICS Summit Declaration, both events held in June 2022.

NATO's Strategic Concept 2022

The 2022 NATO summit  in Spain included all 30 NATO members plus Australia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and Sweden, countries  not member states of NATO but invited to attend and participate in the summit (Ukraine took part remotely). The presidents of the European Council and European Commission were also invited.

The NATO grouping issued a Strategic Concept statement following the meeting in which it stated that members consider Russia the most significant and direct threat to its security and the BRICS economies a security threat. The bloc also intends to counter China, expand its partnership in the Asia Pacific Region and on the post-Soviet territory, and reinforce its own defense capabilities. The main points are as follows.

1. Russia as a threat. NATO has expressly stated that Russia has nothing to do with NATO and that any engagements between Russia and NATO depend on Moscow. This implies that NATO will not be prepared to enter into any discussions with Russia unless they are on NATO’s terms.

2. BRICS as a security threat. The BRICS  stated that the current world order was preserving a unipolar world with the United States essentially in control and that they wanted to devolve this structure into a fairer, multipolar world with greater say in world affairs from all nations. NATO appears to view that as a threat to its own interests. This is a clear signal of a near complete breakdown between the Western countries represented by NATO  and the emerging global economies.

3. Countering China. NATO believes that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)  is a security risk as China has invested in logistics capabilities on a global basis (at a time when the West has not). In fact, an OECD Report from 2018 stated that the BRI was regionally positive and statistically significant in developing global trade.  This is a difficult, almost impossible bridge to cross. It also indicates that NATO wishes to cut itself off from any BRI connectivity. Given that there are currently 193 countries globally and that 138 of them have signed BRI agreements that also leaves NATO with a remarkably small pool of future trade and infrastructure partners.

4. Indo-Pacific. NATO  was formed at the end of World War Two to preserve peace and conclude ties between North America and Europe. It has become expansionist with obvious intent to deepen cooperation with its partners in the Indo-Pacific. This geographical enlargement is therefore real and has been largely created to respond to the perceived China threat. Others may view that as an expansion of certain NATO members wishing to increase military sales.

In essence, the NATO Strategic Concept appears to be the military arm to enforce the United States into new geographical territories and to provide increased weapons to the alliance as the lead in what the BRICS countries have stated in contrast is a unipolar world.

In doing so, it can also be seen as viewing the BRICS countries as a threat (collective China and Russia GDP within BRICS equate to 75% of the BRICS groups total GDP). Taken in this context, it appears that NATO is also now targeting trade.

This is in direct contrast to the BRICS Summit Declaration,   released some days  before, and which Chinese Premier Xi Jinping suggested should be mandatory reading. The attitudes and opinions expressed in the BRICS agenda are far more inclusive that those emanating from the NATO document.

It can be read that NATO, which includes most of the G7 nations, the EU, UK and United States, have quite categorically stated that neither China nor Russia are welcome  and if attempts are made to change the NATO Strategic Concept  then force will be applied to uphold it. This is a deeply flawed, provocative and aggressively worrying step to yet more conflicts.

14th BRICS Summit Declaration

The overall tone of the BRICS declaration 2022 is far more inclusive than in the past and can be seen as a pathway to a far larger influential entity, especially where each of the BRICS members themselves has extensive additional regional free trade and economic partnerships.

The two main themes that can be taken from this document are firstly, the pathway to an inclusive bloc that has the potential to develop into both a formal and informal grouping that could influence up to three-quarters of total global trade.

Secondly, the call for reform within numerous multinational institutions, which while diplomatically phrased, remain an assessment that the United States position as a Unipolar power is now waning and that bodies such as the UN, WTO, World Bank and related institutions require a shakeup and a divestment of global power and influence away from Washington and spread more equally among the emerging countries of the world. This would be the biggest single shake-up of World Order since the end of the previous British Empire. Calls for it to happen given the global influence of BRICS-SCO  are not going to go away unless enforced militarily by Washington. The Ukraine situation is a problematic example of how this could play out and is part of this struggle.

The BRICS Summit Declaration 2022 is, as Xi Jinping suggests, a document that should be read by everyone to ascertain where future development flows, problems and opportunities can be seen, dealt with and pave the way to a more inclusive, and fairer, multi-polar global society.


The SCO, led by China and Russia, is a pan-Eurasian institution originally focused on counter-terrorism but now increasingly geared towards geoeconomic – and geopolitical – cooperation. BRICS, led by the triad of Russia, India, and China overlaps with the SCO agenda geoeconomically and geopoliticallly, expanding it to Africa, Latin America and beyond: that’s the concept of BRICS+, analyzed in detail in a recent Valdai Club report, and fully embraced by the Russia-China strategic partnership.

The report weighs the pros and cons of three scenarios involving possible, upcoming BRICS+ candidates:

First, nations that were invited by Beijing to be part of the 2017 BRICS summit (Egypt, Kenya, Mexico, Thailand, Tajikistan).

Second, nations that were part of the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting in May 2022 (Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Thailand).

Third, key G20 economies (Argentina, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Turkey).

And then there’s Iran, which has already already shown interest in joining BRICS.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has recently confirmed that several countries are absolutely dying to join BRICS. Among them, a crucial West Asia player: Saudi Arabia.

What makes it even more astonishing is that only three years ago, under former US President Donald Trump’s administration, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (MbS) – the kingdom’s de facto ruler – was dead set on joining a sort of Arab NATO  as a privileged imperial ally.

Diplomatic sources confirm that the day after the US pulled out of Afghanistan, MbS’s envoys started seriously negotiating with both Moscow and Beijing.

Assuming BRICS soon approves Riyadh’s candidacy  by the necessary consensus, one can barely imagine its earth-shattering consequences for the petrodollar. At the same time, it is important not to underestimate the capacity of US foreign policy controllers to wreak havoc.

The only reason Washington tolerates Riyadh’s regime is the petrodollar. The Saudis cannot be allowed to pursue an independent, truly sovereign foreign policy. If that happens, the geopolitical realignment will concern not only Saudi Arabia but the entire Persian Gulf.

Yet that’s increasingly likely after OPEC+ de facto chose the BRICS/SCO path led by Russia-China  in what can be interpreted as a soft preamble for the end of the petrodollar.

The Riyadh-Tehran-Ankara triad

Iran made known its interest to join BRICS even before Saudi Arabia. According to Persian Gulf diplomatic sources, they are already engaged in a somewhat secret channel via Iraq trying to get their act together. Turkey will soon follow – certainly on BRICS and possibly the SCO, where Ankara currently carries the status of extremely interested observer.

This triad: Riyadh, Tehran, Ankara, closely joined with Russia, India, China (the actual core of the BRICS), and eventually in the SCO would constitute a strategic blow to the United States. The discussions leading to BRICS+ are focusing on the challenging path towards a commodity-backed global currency capable of bypassing US dollar primacy.

Several interconnected steps point towards increasing symbiosis between BRICS+ and SCO. The latter’s members states have already agreed on a road map for gradually increasing trade in national currencies in mutual settlements.

And then there’s the TurkStream saga. Ankara for years has been trying to position itself as a privileged East-West gas hub. After the sabotage of the North Streams, Putin has handed it on a plate by offering Turkey the possibility to increase Russian gas supplies to the EU via such a hub.  Ankara and Moscow have already reached an agreement in principle.

This will mean in practice Turkey controlling the gas flow to Europe not only from Russia but also Azerbaijan and a great deal of West Asia, perhaps even including Iran, as well as Libya in northeast Africa. LNG terminals in Egypt, Greece and Turkey itself may complete the network.

NATO, of course, will be livid. But never underestimate hedging bet specialist Sultan Erdogan. His love story with both the BRICS and the SCO is just beginning.


In Chinese strategic thinking, the BRI and BRICS are deeply interconnected. BRICS, comprising the world’s best performing emerging economies, is a less controversial platform and more appealing to the developing world. It is often seen as the key international mechanism that can act as the second front or as the leading geese, aiding and advancing China’s BRI objectives. As China-US rivalry intensifies and the BRI faces a plethora of challenges, BRICS is increasingly gaining significance for China.

Within the grouping, China sees itself as the core of BRICS,  while Russia is considered the main tool to advance Chinese interests within the BRICS framework. China is aiming to undercut the role and agency of India, Brazil and South Africa while utilising China-Russia ties as the bedrock for further developing BRICS in a direction that suits their interests.

BRICS also supply services used worldwide, with India vital for drug production and engineering, Russia for oil exports, China for a significant amount of western manufacturing, and Brazil and South Africa for oils and ore.

It is against this backdrop that China is proposing a BRICS expansion. Economic strength and development  are not the sole criteria for China while considering potential BRICS members. Political and identity commonality in the context of China-US competition, geographic and locational advantages, willingness to support the BRI, are seen as important points.

What would happen in a NATO vs BRICS war?

If Russia negotiated a military pact with BRICS, their alliance would hold most of the world's nuclear weapons. According to the Arms Control Association (ACA), nine nations currently possess nuclear warheads. Three of those: US, UK and France  belong  to NATO, and Israel can  also be considered a NATO member. The four of them boast a combined total of approximately 6,155 warheads.

The three nuclear-capable BRICS members would have hundreds more at their collective disposal if they aligned militarily. Russia, India and China are the three nuclear BRICS nations. Putin alone possesses more warheads than the entirety of NATO alone, as the ACA estimates Russia has 6,257. Adding China and India to the occasion would leave the three nations with 6,763 altogether. Their total would exceed NATO's by 608, giving them a clear advantage in threatening nuclear war.


Scientists in China are increasingly inclined to adopt a holistic approach in ensuring national security. That is, based on the ideas of Aristotle, it turns out that global security is more important than the totality of regional security, and national security is a comprehensive concept, not just the sum of military-political, economic, informational and other special cases.

Holistic logic leads to assume that China and Russia will not be able to ensure their own security if each ignores the challenges and threats facing the other. This idea is confirmed by the growing cooperation between Moscow and Beijing on issues of strategic stability.

A more inclusive model of international relations through SCO, BRICS and other multilateral groupings in which China plays a central role favours its stringent criticism of the West in general, and the U.S. in particular, for unilaterally targeting or isolating states on normative ground (i.e. the universal values of liberal democracies).

Under Xi, China has promoted its own networks of multilateral and bilateral strategic partnerships as positive-sum correctives to U.S.-led formal alliances, which Beijing consistently asserts drive world politics toward zero-sum competition.

The study of civilizations in isolation no longer suffices. We must teach and learn world history so as to prepare ourselves to live in a world in which the West and the Rest must respond to future challenges. World history must make space for all the peoples and cultures in the world.

The past is the only preparation for responsible, effective action in the future. And that means that world history is a far better guide than Western Civilization alone, which is, in the largest frame, a mere episode in the human saga.