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Russia's foreign minister accuses the West of 'financial blackmail' as BRICS eye adding Saudi Arabia, Iran to economic bloc

BRICS countries leaders Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Jair Bolsonaro, Narendra Modi, and Cyril Ramaphosa
Leaders of BRICS countries in 2019.Sputnik/Alexey Nikolsky/Kremlin via Reuters
  • Russia's foreign minister slammed the West for its use of "financial blackmail."

  • That refers to sanctions imposed on Russia after it invaded Ukraine last year.

  • Saudi Arabia and Iran have requested joining the BRICS economic bloc, South Africa said.

Russia accused the West of "financial blackmail" for imposing sanctions on the country, as the BRICS economic bloc mulls the addition of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

In a meeting Thursday with top officials from other BRICS nations — which include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov slammed Western countries for their use of "financial blackmail," according to a translated comments cited by the AP.

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That likely refers to sanctions that have been imposed on Russia since it invaded Ukraine last year. They include freezing its currency reserves, ousting Russia from the global financial communication system, and banning imports of Russian oil, a key source of income for the country.

Meanwhile, South Africa's ambassador to BRICS also discussed potentially adding Saudi Arabia and Iran to the bloc of developing countries, as both outsider nations have officially requested membership.

Lavrov held talks with Saudi Arabia's foreign minister on the sidelines of the BRICS meeting on Thursday, according to the AP.

That comes as Russia continues to face pressure from sanctions, which have forced Moscow to strengthen its ties with allies in order to keep its economy running.

For instance, Russia has relied more heavily on China's yuan to conduct trade. The Kremlin has also proposed combining its financial system with Iran's, and has floated creating a gold-backed currency between the two countries that could challenge the US dollar.

It's also shifted oil exports to China and India at steep discounts after the European Union banned Russian crude imports.

Still, Western sanctions will prevent Russia from progressing economically for a long time as the economy faces "yuanization," according to the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center.

Read the original article on Business Insider