Non-Western multilateralism_BRICS and the SCO in the post-Covid world

Non-Western multilateralism: BRICS and the SCO in the post Covid world

Dated Published: July 2020

BRICS and the SCO are a graphic embodiment of Russian and Indian equidistant partnerships with other non-Western power centres, which is fundamental for the two countries’ positioning as independent great powers refraining from joining the US-China confrontation as junior partners of either superpower

  • Economic Disengagement
  • Polycentric World
  • SCO
  • US-China Containment Coalition


The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated many international processes and aggravated antagonisms. First and foremost, the so-called “liberal international order,” which primarily relied on the power and financial and economic superiority of the United States, has continued to lose strength. This order has never been universal and in recent years has faced a growing resistance both from without — from the outside forces that were unwilling to accept America’s global leadership — and from within, from the part of US society that did not benefit from globalisation and did not subscribe to the United States’ role as a “benevolent hegemon” and chief creator of global public welfare.

This process has dramatically accelerated amid the pandemic. The United States has kept completely away from organising cooperation against this year’s main transnational threat. More than that, it started playing havoc with this cooperation (by withdrawing from the WHO, for example) and has often acted contrary to the best interests of its closest allies and partners. The United States has boosted pressure on allies, coercing them into opposition to Russia and China and even introducing sanctions against those unwilling to renounce cooperation with Moscow and Beijing (on Nord Stream 2, for example)

A stronger US-China confrontation has failed to lead to the slackening of US-Russia confrontation.

Similarly, the pandemic has become a catalyst for a US-China standoff, which has escalated into a full-blown confrontation in 2020. The confrontation will continue regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November and will remain central to the US foreign policy and a key factor in relations with allies for years to come. There is a bipartisan consensus on this point, and should Biden win in November, the Republicans will watch his policy towards Beijing as closely and jealously as the Democrats are watching Trump’s policy with regard to Moscow today. Apart from being involved in the political, military-political, information and ideological confrontation, the US and China have geared up their economic disengagement, a gradual and slow, if steady, minimisation of their economic relations and interdependence. This has received the support of a considerable part of the US business community.

But a stronger US-China confrontation has failed to lead to the slackening of US-Russia confrontation. Within the next few years, Washington will go on with its policy of two-pronged containment of Beijing and Moscow, no matter who wins the presidential election in the United States. For its discontinuation, there are no domestic political conditions in the United States; nor is there a realisation by the US establishment that Russia will not begin to regard China as a threat in the foreseeable future and will not realign itself with the West on that account.

Moreover, if Biden wins, the confrontation with Russia and China may even be intensified. The US will step up its criticism of them over values and its coordination with allies in Europe and Asia. The sanctions policy towards Russia and China will continue as well, including to the detriment of US allies’ interests.

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