BRICS In The New World Energy Order: Hedging In Oil Geopolitics

President Biden’s visit to Saudi Arabia during his trip to the Middle East last week has little to show for it. Shortly after the Biden visit, the Kingdom made it clear that it would not act unilaterally outside of the OPEC+ group which includes Russia and allied smaller producers. Saudi Arabia and its OPEC allies would continue to value the cohesion of the group, the views of Russia and the needs of global market stability in its production decisions.

Biden’s trip was cast by Republican leaders as “begging for oil” from the Saudis amidst high gasoline prices, the worst inflation in four decades at home and abysmal popularity polls for the president. That this happened while his administration wages a regulatory war on its own homegrown world-leading oil and gas industry is seen as particularly egregious. Following the optics of last week’s meeting, one of President Biden’s critics found his attempt to “reset” relations with Saudi Arabia an “unequivocal display of a deeply weakened United States led by its exceedingly enfeebled president”.

These opinions might be dismissed as partisan politics but it is notable that news of Saudi Arabia’s interest in membership of the BRICS group came out in advance of President Biden’s visit. And while President Biden was having his meeting with the kingdom’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Jeddah, BRICS International Forum president Purnima Anand reported on the same day that three more countries — which included Egypt and Turkey along with Saudi Arabia — could join the BRICS group “very soon”. This followed earlier announcements that Iran and Argentina had formally applied for membership with Chinese support.
The accession of new countries was discussed by Russia, India and China at the 14th BRICS summit held (virtually) last month.

BRICS As A Geopolitical Hedge

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Most countries in Asia, Africa, Middle East and Latin America outside of the narrow “Western alliance” have not taken part in isolating Russia in support of NATO’s agenda which to date seems to be to fight the proxy war with Russia to the last Ukrainian. China, for instance, is likely to perceive the war not merely as the West’s attempt to “bleed Russia” but something as more directly consequential to its own national interests. NATO’s “new strategic concept” document, released at its summit in Madrid last month, states that China’s “stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values” and warns of “the deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.

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