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BRICS CONUNDRUM

Ramaphosa calls Putin after crunch Cabinet meeting and ahead of Africa-led peace mission

Ramaphosa calls Putin after crunch Cabinet meeting and ahead of Africa-led peace mission
From left: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (Photo: Adam Berry / Getty Images) | Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Artem Geodakyan / Sputnik / Kremlin Pool) | President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Did President Cyril Ramaphosa politely tell Russian President Vladimir he couldn’t come to the BRICS summit?

President Cyril Ramaphosa has spoken on the phone to Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the African peace mission on the Russia-Ukraine war as well as the Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg next month. It seems highly likely that they also discussed the BRICS summit which South Africa is hosting in August, where the presence or absence of Putin has become an extremely thorny diplomatic and legal conundrum for Pretoria.

Did Ramaphosa politely tell Putin he couldn’t attend?

The Presidency, however, only mentioned the peace mission and the Russia-Africa summit as topics of the conversation.

Ramaphosa is scheduled to join the leaders of Senegal, Egypt, the Republic of Congo, Zambia, Uganda and Comoros when they travel next week first to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and then Putin in St Petersburg to discuss ways of ending the war. 

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, said Putin had welcomed the initiative by the African leaders and expressed his desire to receive them. Magwenya noted that Ramaphosa’s call with Putin followed a discussion on Monday among the African leaders participating in the peace mission. 

“The leaders discussed their forthcoming engagements with presidents Putin and Zelensky regarding exploring ways of bringing an end to the conflict.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Cabinet to consider moving BRICS Summit to China

Conspicuously unmentioned was South Africa’s dilemma about the BRICS summit it is scheduled to host in Johannesburg from 22 to 24 August. As a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) South Africa would be obliged to arrest Putin if he sets foot in South Africa as the ICC has issued a warrant for his arrest for the alleged war crime of complicity in abducting Ukrainian children in the parts of the country Russia has occupied and forcibly deporting them to Russia. 

The South African government had earlier announced that it was seeking a legal solution that would allow it both to host Putin and also not violate its obligations to the ICC and to its own ICC Implementation Act which domesticates the Rome Statute of the ICC.

But last week officials said it was unlikely that any legal solution would take effect before the summit and so they were exploring ways of holding the summit without Putin visiting South Africa. These include holding the summit virtually – either for all the BRICS leaders or just for Putin – or moving the summit to another country. China seems the preferred host if that is decided on. 

A interministerial committee appointed by Ramaphosa and chaired by Deputy President Paul Mashatile met on Monday to discuss these options and is believed to have made a recommendation to Cabinet to be discussed at its meeting on Wednesday.

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni is due to brief the media about the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting later on Thursday, where it is possible she will disclose what Cabinet has decided to do about the BRICS summit. It is conceivable that Ramaphosa called Putin just after the Cabinet meeting precisely to brief him about what it had decided. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Did Cyril spell out that the recent bombing, by Russia, of a major dam in Ukraine, is a particularly heinous war crime?

    • Denton Hulley says:

      How do you know it was the Russians? What evidence is there as far as I know no official investigation is underway yet to conclude who is actually behind the bombing?

      • Carsten Rasch says:

        Who do you think it was? The Ukrainians? Shooting themself in the foot whilst cutting their noses and blowing up one the largest water masses in the world?

      • Wade de Jager de Jager says:

        @Denton Hulley – Firstly, the dam is in the Russian controlled area of Ukraine. Secondly, why would Ukraine send under cover operatives into that area to blow up their own dam knowing it would harm thousands of their own civilians downstream and most importantly in the process hinder the efforts of their counter offensive that need to get across that water logged area?

      • D.R. W says:

        When the Russians (or Putin) poisoned the opposition leader, they denied it emphatically? Did you believe them then like you believe them now!? Blowing up the dam wall and flooding the surrounding area was a deliberate strategy to slow down any Ukrainian counter offensive. The dam wall was coincidentally under Russian military control. Putin is ruthless.

        • Denton Hulley says:

          My goodness. What is one dealing with here? Have our modern day comprehension skills deteriorated to such a horrendous extent? What part of my question is so difficult to understand, because I’m sure even a high school pupil is able to grasp the issue my question is raising or at least alluding too, not the nonsensical unsubstantiated assumptions you are deliberately reading into the question, which ta her looks like a emotionally driven diversion tactic to avoid addressing or at the minimum reflecting on the issue the question raised. And no, I don’t and won’t believe anything the Russians or anybody else says or claims without concrete irrefutable evidence, and there is nothing in my question that shows that I am doing that. My goodness, what I am dealing with here?

          • rocheburgers says:

            Denton, some things are just obvious. Unfortunately not your goodness as you proclaim.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    Why is India not a preferred host for the talks? Is it possible that they do not want to be seen as supporting Russia in an atmosphere of guilt? Or are they not interested in letting Ramaphosa off the hook? I see India as an odd man out in BRICS. Maybe BRICS is an association of odd men out?

    • Pet Bug says:

      India is hosting a G20 meeting in September; at least they have the diplomatic nous not to upset any apple carts before then just to appear chummy with serious BRICS delinquents.
      Unlike you know who…

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    I’m surprised he didn’t call before, just to check what outcome Putin prefers.

  • Peter Doble says:

    All in all it’s just another Brics in the wall……

  • bruce.johnstone says:

    The mind boggles at a President who country is on the brink of being a failed state, with an unemployment challenge amongst a plethora of other issues is visiting the Ukraine & Russia to discuss ways of ending the war. Maybe the biblical phrase (sic) “ take the log out of your own eye, before trying to remove the spec from your brother” is applicable here.

  • Mike Waghorn says:

    Did President Cyril Ramaphosa politely tell Russian President Vladimir he couldn’t come to the BRICS summit?….. Who? Our overly diplomatic, walking on egg shells, undecisive president. You must be joking!

  • Matsobane Monama says:

    ” It seems highly likely “, a speculation again from Peter Fabricius. I was a STEM student @ school, i am not fluent with this colonial language.

    • Rod H MacLeod says:

      As such, you should be familiar with the concept of critical thinking. If you are not familiar with this colonial language, why did you choose to be educated in its sciences?

  • Mike Waghorn says:

    If Putin were a true friend to South Africa, he would have suggested either moving the summit, or politely declining to attend in person. He has done neither! Why? Because he only cares for himself.

  • Johnny Kessel says:

    Wagner Group. The ANC knows which side it’s bread is buttered.

  • Nina Maritz says:

    I cannot understand the majority of black South Africans preferring Russia to America. Don’t they all have fancy hairdo’s and plastic nails, not sure you get these in Russia. Toilets, according to the general Russian populace. they see a toilet as drinking water, (noted in many Ukrainian towns ‘freed from Russians). Weird, also what about all the black American actors and musicians definitely not Russian, and so good. Maybe for the rest of us would benefit from their penal system it seems to be very effective, as opposed to ours.

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