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Chinese President Xi Jinping will lead a virtual summit of the leaders of the BRICS bloc next week, which also includes Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa, the first meeting of this group since the crisis in Ukraine began.

This influential group of emerging economies formed in 2009 groups 40% of the global population and represents nearly a quarter of world GDP.

Xi will chair the virtual BRICS meeting on June 23, the state-run Xinhua news agency said on Friday, citing Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

Three of its members — China, India and South Africa — have abstained from voting on a resolution to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

China and India have strong military ties to Russia and buy significant amounts of oil and gas.

On Wednesday, Xi expressed his support on “sovereignty and security” issues in a call to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, prompting the United States to call on Beijing to avoid placing itself on the “wrong side of history.”

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