BRICS: South Africa prevents Putin from attending August summit

Vladimir Putin of Russia is not attending the BRICS summit in South Africa in August, the South African presidential palace announced on Wednesday.

Instead, the summit will be attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, along with the leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa. In a statement, South Africa’s presidential office said the decision was made “by mutual agreement” between the two countries.

Putin’s possible participation in the summit posed a diplomatic dilemma for South Africa.

The Russian president is the subject of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of committing war crimes related to the war in Ukraine. As a member of the ICC, South Africa would be forced to arrest Putin if he showed up in person at the summit.

On Tuesday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa asked the ICC for permission not to arrest Putin, according to a local court summary released Tuesday. Ramaphosa said Putin’s arrest would be like a declaration of war.

The Kremlin responded on Wednesday that Russia had not told South Africa that Putin’s arrest under an ICC arrest warrant meant “war”.

South Africa refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it was neutral and in favor of dialogue. However, the country has been criticized by Western powers for its proximity to Moscow.

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