Putin won’t attend BRICS summit in South Africa

Russian President Vladimir Putin won't attend BRICS sumit Moscow, Russia July 17, 2023. Sputnik/Alexander Kazakov/Kremlin via REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the BRICS summit in South Africa in August. Instead, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will represent Russia at the summit alongside the leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa, as reported by Africa News.

The decision for Putin to skip the summit was made “by mutual agreement” between Russia and South Africa, according to the South African presidency.

Putin’s possible attendance had presented a diplomatic dilemma for South Africa. As a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), South Africa would be obliged to arrest Putin if he appeared in person given the ICC arrest warrant against him for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa asked the ICC for permission not to arrest Putin, according to a local court submission. Ramaphosa said arresting Putin would amount to a declaration of war.

The Kremlin responded saying Russia did not tell South Africa that arresting Putin on an ICC warrant would mean “war”.

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