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Russia has urged the BRICS group of emerging economies, consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, to integrate their payment systems and extend the use of national currencies, reported Reuters.

The move comes as the US and its allies escalate sanctions on Russia in a bid to alienate the country’s financial system over its continuing military aggression in Ukraine.

Russian finance minister Anton Siluanov said in a ministerial meeting with BRICS that the global economic situation had worsened substantially because of sanctions.

Siluanov also noted that the sanction could destroy the foundation of the current US dollar-based international monetary and financial system.  

He said: “This pushes us to the need to speed up work in the following areas: the use of national currencies for export-import operations, the integration of payment systems and cards, our own financial messaging system and the creation of an independent BRICS rating agency.”

Following the initial round of sanctions, Visa and MasterCard halted their operations in Russia at the beginning of this March and Russia’s top lenders were cut off from the international payment system SWIFT.

As an alternative to SWIFT, Russia established its own payment system called SPFS. It had set up its card payment system MIR in 2015 to facilitate domestic as well as international transactions.

The BRICS ministers agreed on the importance of cooperation in efforts to steady the current economic situation, the Russian finance ministry said.

Siluanov said: “The current crisis is man-made, and the BRICS countries have all necessary tools to mitigate its consequences for their economies and the global economy as a whole.”

Last week, Reuters reported that Russia is looking to tap Chinese chip manufacturers to fill the growing demand for MIR cards.  

Last month, Ukraine urged the apex banks of Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Vietnam to stop servicing MIR cards in their ATM and POS networks.