MOSCOW, July 11 (Reuters) - 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. influence.
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.
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 July 15-16.
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)