What was the Primakov Doctrine? How did it lay down the foundations of a unique multilateral inter-governmental organization such as the Brazil Russia India China South Africa (BRICS)? Will the bricks of BRICS build upon their foundation further, or will it be demolished before it achieves domination? How has it influenced the world’s second powerful man — Vladimir Putin, who is still said to be under Primakov’s influence? Yevgeny Primakov served as the Foreign Minister and later as the Prime Minister of Russia; leaving an indelible mark on the Russian strategic culture and foreign policy orientation. Primakov’s decisive role in Russian foreign relations is something that requires critical introspection. It is an established fact that in international relations, leaders and individuals play a definitive role primarily due to their assertiveness and belief in their abilities to control events — Primakov was undoubtedly a perfect example of such a personality. It was Primakov who en route to Washington DC turned his jet back to Moscow after listening to the news of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces (NATO) bombing former Yugoslavia (Operation Allied Force)on March 28, 1999.Primakov’s mid-air manoeuvre was termed as “Primakov’s Loop.” Historically Slavic nations have remained allies of Russia- subsequently, the latter termed NATO’s aerial campaign as illegal since it was not sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council. It is noteworthy that during the late 1990s Russia relied heavily on western economic aid and was perhaps the reason that Moscow made the decision on June 3, 1999 to back NATO in removing Slobodan Milosevic from power. Nevertheless, Russian Prime Minister Primakov’s audacious yet intimidating decision to condemn and symbolically protest NATO’s unilateral initiative was absolutely unexpected. The last Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and first Russian President Boris Yeltsin were perhaps incapable or did not have strategists like Primakov who could set forth the foreign policy objectives of Russia. Primakov laid down the fundamentals of independent thinking in Russian Foreign Policy. It was Primakov who envisaged a Russian-led bloc including China and Iran. The relevance of political and military doctrines is undeniable here, since a doctrine paves the way and acts as a bridge between policy objectives and strategy. It is true that Primakov being the foreign minister actually prepared Russia in resisting pressure from the international community, indicating that the Primakov Doctrine was more of a balance of threat, than a balance of power. The Primakov Doctrine was a set of beliefs and ideas envisaged by Yevgeny Primakov to bring back Russia to the world’s centre stage and in the lime light of international politics. Russian military campaigns in Chechnya (1999), Abkhazia (1998), South Ossetia (2008) and the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine (2014) proved successful, being deeply rooted in Primakov’s doctrinal foundations. Pre-empting political backlash, exploiting rival weaknesses, upgrading military manoeuvres; remain the linchpin of the Primakov Doctrine. What enabled Putin to confront America and NATO’s decision to remove BasharAl-Assad from power in Syria is a million dollar question. The tide of international politics turned dramatically in Syria when Putin challenged the US. Not only did Putin assert Russia internationally but also gained an offshore ally. Astonishingly, Russia’s presence in Syria brought two historic rivals, Turkey and Russia, closer The fall of the Soviet Union put an end to the bipolar world order and established an unchallengeable hegemony, while providing the United States and NATO with an opportunity to impose their will on the world — with and without the blessings of the United Nations. The expression of this belief can be seen in Operation Just Cause (1989) in Panama,Operation Uphold Democracy (1994) in Haiti, and others down to Operation Enduring Freedom (2001) in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003) which removed Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq were also demonstrations of uninfringeable American power. What enabled Putin to confront America and NATO’s decision to remove Bashar Al-Assad from power in Syria is a million dollar question. The tide of international politics turned dramatically in Syria when Putin challenged United States. Not only did Putin assert Russia internationally but also gained an offshore ally. Astonishingly, Russia’s presence in Syria brought two historic rivals — Turkey and Russia closer. It is relatively doubtful that Russia envisioned India to be a permanent and reliable Russian strategic partner. The evidence of this assertion can be found in Indian inclination towards the American bloc. The question now is what role Russia will play in appeasing tensions between India and China, especially related to their border conflicts, and India’s boycott of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It can be predicted here that soon Turkey and Iran might become members of BRICS and it may be called as TIBRICS. It would not be wrong to conclude that it was the Primakov Doctrine that enabled Russia to strengthen economically and free itself from western aid. The BRICS platform is not only a sign of growing unbalanced multi-polarity in the international system, but the combined economies and population of its member countries make it a formidable politico-economic and strategic platform. While uncertainty looms over the future of BRICS, one thing can be said with surety that the Primakov Doctrine has become a permanent part of Putin’s Grand Strategy. The writer can be reached at: [email protected] Published in Daily Times, July 30th 2018.