Peter Peverelli: On BRICS, naval exercises and U.S. threats

Peter Peverelli: On BRICS, naval exercises and U.S. threats

Peter Peverelli, TFF Associate

March 1, 2023

The US has started raising concerns about possible Chinese military support to Russia. On Feb. 20, China, Russia and South Africa begin joint naval exercises off the coast of the latter. The BRICS countries will soon meet to decide on the admission of new members. This commentary attempts to link these three news items into one bigger picture.


Both U.S. Secretary of State Blinken and Vice President Harris have recently expressed concern about possible covert Chinese military support to Russia. Harris added that this would thwart the U.S. goal to weaken Russia.

These statements are in line with the US trade war against China and, therefore, not really surprising. However, both politicians should be smart enough to realize that it is pointless to attack China more and more economically, and on the other hand, expect China to support the US in its fight against Russia. So, why are we hearing these statements at this particular moment?

First published by Chinasquare on February 20, 2023


The immediate cause of these statements could be found in the joint military exercises between the navies of China, Russia and South Africa that start on February 20 off the coast of South Africa and will last for a week. This is the second time that the three countries have held such exercises. The US, of course, is watching such actions with suspicion.

In addition to being interpreted as China’s military support for Russia, it also confirms the increasing influence of both countries in Africa. The Chinese government explains in a statement that these exercises are being conducted within the framework of BRICS with the aim of strengthening the protection of international flows of goods by sea.


BRICS, a partnership of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is no longer limited to these countries. Especially during the last conference of BRICS members, several countries showed interest in joining. These include Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, the UAE, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

BRICS will soon decide on the admission of Saudi Arabia and Iran. BRICS is, first and foremost, an economic partnership. However, given the situation in the world, it is not unreasonable for the members to also pay attention to protecting the trade between the member nations. This also adds a military aspect to BRICS.

Vicious circle

In this way, seemingly different news items form an organic whole. Unfortunately, they also expose the vicious circle that Western countries led by the US have set in motion. In an earlier commentary, I mentioned that the West’s attitude towards China shows that what was previously promoted as development aid to developing nations is, in fact, counterproductive aid.

Non-Western countries may develop but not surpass the West. China, and to a lesser extent India, are taking the lead in more and more technical and academic areas. That worries the West, which started a trade war against China, hoping that rival India would join the Western camp.

However, BRICS is stronger than Western politicians thought. In addition, the war in Ukraine, a de facto proxy war against the R in BRICS, is a complicating factor.

Not only does the West fail to break open BRICS, BRICS is expanding and is now forced, still by the West, to cooperate militarily as well. It is, therefore, up to Western countries to break this vicious circle. The U.S. is not likely to change and do that. The EU members could make a difference, but then they would have to loosen their strong ties with the US.

Recommended reading

Charles Hampden-Turner, Peter Peverelli, Fons Trompenaars, Has China Devised a Superior Path to Wealth Creation. The Role of Secular Values (2021) – and:

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