The upcoming BRICS (a loose political-economic grouping of the large emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit, scheduled to take place in Fortaleza, Brazil, on July 15–17, provided an occasion for President Vladimir Putin to make a lengthy tour around Latin America, starting from Cuba last Friday and making a short unscheduled detour to Nicaragua on Saturday. Meetings with the Castro brothers as well as with Daniel Ortega did little to restore Putin’s international prestige, but they allowed him to make a grand gesture of writing off Cuba’s debt amounting to no less than $35 billion (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 8; Slon.ru, July 11). The next destination was Argentina, which can perhaps serve as a useful illustration of a protracted economic disaster aggravated by entrenched populism (Kommersant-Dengi, April 28). Putin is hardly receptive to such lessons and has to play down his trademark counter-revolutionary rhetoric, emphasizing instead the determination to stand firm against US hegemony and interventionism. This discourse certainly resonates in Latin America; but the BRICS summit is focused on economic dynamism. And Russia’s anemic economic growth makes Moscow’s claims for a major role on the international arena questionable (Gazeta.ru, July 10).
The full article is in Eurasia Daily Monitor, July 14.