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The BRICS group of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa will add six more countries into its ranks, as key members Russia and China seek to expand the influence of the loose economic bloc to counteract Western global dominance, the Washington Post reported.

After a three-day summit in South Africa, host President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Thursday that the new members – Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Argentina – will join the group in January.

The addition marks the first expansion of the group since South Africa joined in 2010 by invitation from China.

It also comes amid long-running efforts by Russia and China to transform a largely symbolic coalition into a mechanism for reshaping global trade and financial systems. This transformation aims to safeguard their interests from potential future sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies.

Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, called for BRICS to fight the decoupling of and disruptions to supply chains, while also making thinly veiled swipes at the US for “hegemonic” behavior.

Putin did not participate in person and made his statements via a video link. Had he attended the summit in person, South African authorities would have been obligated to arrest him because of war crimes charges the Russian leader faces at the International Criminal Court.

Analysts explained that the recent BRICS expansion marks a significant push from Xi to turn it into an “anti-hegemonic” force and establish alternative, non-Western frameworks for trade and development among developing nations.

While India and Brazil have concerns regarding the escalating anti-US stance, analysts added China and Russia have found some developing nations sympathetic to their concerns about American influence, propelling them to expand the group.

The sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and the post-pandemic push to diversify supply chains have intensified China’s drive to establish alternative worldwide financial systems and supply chains that can withstand disruptions from Western actions.

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