Recent meetings between Brazil, Russia and China showcase how these countries, and others, are increasingly working together in a world where US influence is perceived as declining. This matters to the Middle East because Brazil is an important economy and looks to be trying to increase its role globally.
The current meetings did not include all three countries but several types of visits and meetings that showcase this phenomenon. For instance, Russia’s minister of foreign affairs, Sergei Lavrov, arrived in Brasilia on Monday to meet with Mauro Vieira. The Guardian in the UK noted that this visit would “ruffle” the US. Lavrov is apparently traveling also to Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba, Russian state media said. This is a Russian “tour” of South America to shore up its position there.
Lavrov’s trip to Brazil comes as Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was recently traveling to China and then to the UAE. Russia’s state media TASS noted that “Brazil being mentioned separately in Russia’s updated Foreign Policy Concept is a testament to the mature nature of relations between the two countries, Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira said in an interview with TASS ahead of his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Brasilia.”
The report said that Brazil is an important member of BRICS and MERCOSUR and that Brazil is trying to reorient its foreign policy under Lula. “In fact, both our countries play important roles in international communication. Besides, this aspect of Russia’s understanding of foreign policy priorities indicates the mature nature of bilateral relations and makes it clear that like Brazil, Russia also believes that bilateral ties are crucial for the system of international relations,” Vieira said.
Meanwhile, on April 15, The National in the UAE noted that UAE “President Sheikh Mohamed received his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Abu Dhabi after he arrived for an official visit.” Lula received an honor guard as he arrived and a 21-gun artillery salute. The UAE Air Force aerobatics team ‘Al Fursan,’ also performed a flyover. “I had the pleasure of welcoming President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to the UAE. Brazil has long been a key strategic partner of the UAE,” Sheikh Mohamed said in a tweet. The UAE is one of Brazil’s largest trading partners in the region and this is the second time Lula has come to the country. He was last there in 2003.
"I had the pleasure of welcoming President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to the UAE. Brazil has long been a key strategic partner of the UAE," Sheikh Mohamed said in a tweet. The UAE is one of Brazil’s largest trading partners in the region and this is the second time Lula has come to the country. He was last there in 2003.
Turkey’s public broadcaster TRT noted that “Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu has hailed ties with Moscow during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.” The report went on to say that “we have very strong ties. They surpass the military-political alliances of the Cold War era... They are very stable.” He said on Sunday that a new era was dawning in relations. “This is my first overseas visit since taking over as China’s defense minister. I specifically chose Russia for this in order to emphasize the special nature and strategic importance of our bilateral ties,” Li said.
Russia, China, Brazil and a new world order
When these visits are added up, the Russian foreign minister going to Brazil and South America; the Brazilian leader going to China and the UAE; and China’s Defense Minister going to Russia, these are the building blocks of what China and Russia see as a new world order. This is designed to confront the US-led world order that emerged in the 1990s and create a multi-polar world. These moves also were linked to recent meetings regarding Afghanistan in which Pakistan, Russia, China and Iran are all involved.
In addition, they are linked to various groupings of countries that generally exclude the West, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia and the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa group. While countries like Brazil claim to be neutral or merely pursuing an independent policy, the remarks by Lula and these visits make it clear Brazil prefers China and Russia to the US and most Western democracies. Russia and China in turn want to take advantage of this and try to move Brazil into their camp. This has ramifications for the Middle East as countries like Brazil are important to the region.