At the time of the BRICS summit last July, I argued that the grouping, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, was now more than just a talk shop. That summit was notable because, rather than expel Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, the bloc’s members appeared to unify around their shared discomfort with, if not outright disdain for, the U.S.-led “liberal international order.” The leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa, along with those of BRICS observer states Iran and Argentina, appeared just fine commiserating with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man the West considered—and tried to portray as—a pariah.
In the months since that summit, the bonds tying the group to Russia have only grown. None have reached the point of directly participating with Russia in its war against Ukraine. But in one way or another, all are lending support to Moscow at a time when it has been largely cut off diplomatically and economically from the Western world.
While the group functions as a source of support for Russia, it is important to distinguish the differences in how and why they are offering that support. Indeed, by the nature of their backing, we can divide them into three groups: the enablers, the opportunists and the co-belligerents.