CAPE TOWN /South Africa/, June 1. /TASS/. Moscow has reaffirmed its unwavering position that the BRICS group should not accept any new members from among countries that have joined the illegal policy of unilaterally imposing sanctions on Russia and other nations, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said to reporters on Thursday.
"I'm not ready to predict any schedules in this sense," he said, responding to a question about how rapidly the BRICS might be "augmented" with new member countries.
"I want to say that every country that has shown an interest in joining the BRICS is very important in itself. We cannot be guided by some artificial criteria for their admission," he went on.
"Nevertheless, I confirm our unwavering determination to proceed from the basis that there should be no countries in the BRICS that have joined the illegal policy of unilateral sanctions imposed on Russia as well as other nations," Ryabkov added.
The deputy foreign minister also noted that Russia as "one of the most influential countries today," which constitutes "a state-civilization" and "a country that ensures both its own security and interests in the most reliable manner," has the "operative word" in terms of which candidate countries may be admitted to BRICS, as well as how and when.
"There is an understanding that the BRICS group should move along the path of expansion. There are several regions that, let's say, are underrepresented or not represented in BRICS at all. We support the interest shown by the relevant countries in this, and I am sure that during the [BRICS] ministerial meeting, which will start today and continue tomorrow, including in an expanded format, this will be one of the main topics for discussion," Ryabkov said.
Currently, the BRICS countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.