BRICS bank to complement, not replace global institutions: Putin

St Petersburg, June 20 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin says that the BRICS Bank set up by five countries with a capital of $100 billion will not challenge the existing multilateral institutions.

Putin, who was interacting with a dozen visiting wire service reporters, including from IANS, said the intention behind the bank and the reserve currency pool was not to replace the existing global financial structure but to complement it.

He said that although an institution like the World Trade Organisation had “come to a dead-end”, all the five countries which were setting up the New Development Bank and $100 billion pool had a good relationship with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. “They have shown interest in helping to develop Russia and countries,” he said.

The five countries forming BRICS are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The bank will be based in Shanghai and will be headed by K.V. Kamath, the non-executive chairman of ICICI Bank. Kamath has also been the chairman of Indian IT major, Infosys.

When the New Development Bank or BRICS bank was announced, it was deemed to be an alternative to US-dominated World Bank and Fund. The idea to set up the Bank was to encourage larger financial and development cooperation among the five countries.

During his interaction, Putin spoke on a wide range of subjects including the Ukraine crisis, which he said needed a political solution rather than “politics of confrontation”. He said the Ukraine president needed support from the international community so that he is able to keep at bay the opposition by radicals within the country to the Minsk agreement.

The agreement between Russia and Ukraine provides for peaceful solution to the problem of three separatist provinces, with restoration of their rights. Russia is accused by Western countries of fomenting rebellion in the region.

Asked about the heavy weaponry flowing into the separatist areas, Putin said such weapons can be bought by anyone as can be seen from global hotspots. “How did the IS or Al Nusra in Iraq get heavy weaponry?” he asks adding that if the demand exists, people will supply it.

Putin said that the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 may have been shot down over Ukraine conflict area by a Buk missile last year. He said he had seen reports by his technical analyst which showed that a missile coming from the Ukraine held area had hit the tail of the aircraft.

The US and the European Union have accused Russia of supplying the missile systems to separatist who apparently shot down the aircraft.

When asked if there was a rise in nuclear temperature in the world, Putin said he did not think so because the conflict in Ukraine and other areas were localised events and not of “strategic importance”.

When a Canadian journalist told Putin that his country’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper had taken a strong stand against Russia on Ukraine, saying the country should not be allowed to return to the Group of 8 countries, Putin said that if the United States were to say that Russia should be allowed in, the Canadian prime minister “would change his mind”.

He welcomed US efforts to normalise relations with Cuba, saying that it was a wise thing to do. “It will not aggravate Russia’s relationship with either the US or Cuba,” he said.

(Hardev Sanotra is in Russia at the invitation of St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2015. He can be contacted at hardev.sanotra@ians.in)

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