MOSCOW, July 11 Russian President Vladimir
Putin, speaking on the eve of a trip to Latin America, said
Brazil and other emerging powers must play a greater role in
world affairs, suggesting they could do more to counter U.S.
In an interview published on Friday, Putin framed his tour
of Brazil, Cuba and Argentina as part of an effort to build a
multi-polar world at a time when he is isolated by sanctions
over Ukraine and his relations with the West are at their
frostiest since the Cold War.
Russia sees strong relations with Brazil as "strategically
important" in opposing Western clout, he said, ahead of next
week's summit with fellow BRICS nations, which includes China,
India and South Africa.
"This powerful and fast-developing country is destined to
play an important role in the emerging poly-centric world
order," Putin told the Itar-tass news agency.
He said Moscow would back Brazil to obtain a seat on the
United Nations Security Council, where Russia is a veto-wielding
member along with the United States.
The Russian leader has ramped up criticism of what he says
is U.S. meddling in other state's affairs as the former Cold War
superpowers clashed over Russia's annexation of Crimea in March
and its political support of separatists in eastern Ukraine.
In a veiled dig at Washington on Friday, Putin criticised
cyber espionage. Last year's revelations by former U.S.
intelligence contractor Edward Snowden of U.S. surveillance have
led to a rift in its ties with European allies.
"It (cyber espionage) not only amounts to overt hypocrisy in
relationships between allies and partners but also a direct
violation of the state's sovereignty," he said.
REVIVING SOVIET-ERA TIES
Putin begins his tour of the region in Cuba on Friday, then
travels to Argentina and Brazil to attend the World Cup final on
July 13 in Rio de Janeiro and meet BRICS leaders in Fortaleza on
Russia will be introduced at the World Cup closing ceremony
as the host of the next tournament in 2018.
The BRICS leaders are expected to endorse plans for a new
development bank to rival the World Bank with its headquarters
in China and to create a joint foreign exchange reserve pool.
"This will lay the foundations for macroeconomic
coordination between the five countries," Putin's Foreign Policy
adviser Yuri Ushakov said in a Kremlin statement.
"The new BRICS institutions will significantly strengthen
the global financial system, which is especially important in
light of stalled IMF (International Monetary Fund) reforms."
The choice of Havana as a first destination signals Moscow's
desire to revive warm ties dating back to the Soviet era.
Two days ahead of Putin's arrival there, Russia's upper
house ratified last year's agreement to cancel 90 percent of
Cuba's $35.2 billion debt on loans granted by the Soviet Union.
Putin said the remaining 10 percent, or $3.5 billion, would
be spent on joint investment projects in the country.
(Reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Hugh Lawson)