Putin to skip BRICS summit in South Africa due to arrest threat – Times of India

Johannesburg: Vladimir PutinHe will not attend next month’s summit of BRICS countries in South Africa, under an international arrest warrant, the country’s president said on Wednesday, ending months of speculation over whether the Russian president would appear.
Putin’s potential visit has been a complex diplomatic issue for Pretoria.
Russian leader on target International Criminal Court Arrest warrant – a provision that South Africa, as an ICC member, would be expected to invoke if it were to step into the country.
“By mutual consent, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin will not attend the summit,” Vincent Magwenya, a spokesman for President Cyril Ramaphosa, said in a statement.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will represent Russia, Magvenya said.
He said the decision was taken following “several consultations” held by Ramaphosa recently, the latest of which took place last night.
Pretoria is the current chair of the BRICS grouping, an acronym for the giants Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which sees itself as an antidote to Western economic hegemony.
Putin was formally invited to the BRICS summit in Johannesburg from 22 to 24 August, but Pretoria was under intense domestic and international pressure not to host it.
All the leaders of other countries will be present, Magwenya said.
“President Ramaphosa is confident that the summit will be successful and he calls upon the nation to provide the necessary hospitality to the many delegates coming from different parts of the continent and the world,” he added.
The ICC has sought an allegation from Putin that Russia illegally deported Ukrainian children.
In court papers released on Tuesday, Ramaphosa wrote that arresting him would be tantamount to declaring war on Russia.
The assessment was made in an affidavit in response to an application by the country’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), aimed at putting pressure on the government and ensuring that the Kremlin leader is handed over to the ICC upon his arrival.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied Russia’s threat to start a war but said in Moscow that it was “absolutely clear to everyone what an attempt to encroach on the Russian head of state would mean”.
The affidavit revealed that South Africa was seeking exemption under ICC rules, arguing that the arrest could endanger “the security, peace and order of the State”.
Ramaphosa argued that an arrest would also undermine the South African-led mission to end the war in Ukraine and “prevent any peaceful settlement”.
Last month, Ramaphosa led a seven-nation African peace delegation, including representatives from Egypt, Senegal and Zambia, to the talks in Kiev and St Petersburg.
Pretoria has long said it wants to remain neutral on the war in Ukraine but has been accused by critics of leaning towards Moscow.
Some feared that hosting Putin could be read as a sign of support for Russia and could jeopardize South Africa’s strong economic and trade ties with the United States and Europe.
Trade with Russia is much smaller, but their ties date back decades when the Kremlin supported the ruling African National Congress party during the struggle against apartheid.
DA leader John Steenhuysen said Putin’s absence was a “victory for South Africa”.
The country’s economic interests as well as “its reputation on the international stage and commitment to upholding the rule of law” were at stake, he said in a statement.
In recent local media interviews, South African Deputy President Paul Mashatile said the government was trying to persuade Putin not to attend but faced resistance from the Kremlin.
Ramaphosa is scheduled to visit Russia next week to attend the Russia-Africa Summit in St. Petersburg.