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South Africa stands firm it will host BRICS Summit despite Putin arrest warrant conundrum

South Africa stands firm it will host BRICS Summit despite Putin arrest warrant conundrum
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Supreme Economic Eurasian Council in the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow on 25 May 2023. (Photo: Getty Images / STR)

South Africa said on Thursday it will host the BRICS Summit in August as planned, amid speculation that it may move to China so Russian President Vladimir Putin can attend in a country that isn’t obliged to arrest him over war crimes accusations.

South Africa has a duty as a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to arrest Putin if he attends the talks with the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China, owing to an arrest warrant over the deportation of children from Ukraine.

Putin denies the charges.

President Cyril Ramaphosa met him on 17 June in Russia, historically a strong ally of the ANC since it was a liberation movement fighting white minority rule decades ago.

“South Africa will host the 15th BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Sandton from 22 to 24 August 2023,” the Department of International Relations said.

Read more in Daily Maverick’s Ukraine Archives 

Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya confirmed to Reuters that this meant the whole summit, including the main part involving the BRICS heads of state, would take place in South Africa.

He and a spokesperson for the International Relations Department declined to comment on whether Putin will attend.

Change of venue

South African officials said at the end of last month that the BRICS countries were considering moving the summit to China, which is not a member of the international court. They could still decide to change the venue at the last minute.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Lest one day we forget: With Putin’s Russia, South Africa is committing a historic mistake

On Tuesday, International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor said Putin had not yet replied to an invitation, sent before the ICC charged him on 18 March.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are all planning to attend, Pandor said.

South Africa says it has a non-aligned stance on the Ukraine conflict, but has been criticised by Western powers for being friendly to Russia, including hosting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and conducting joint naval exercises. Reuters/DM

By Carien du Plessis

(Editing by Tim Cocks and Andrew Cawthorne)




Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Alan Cargill says:

    I’ll be surprised if Putin has the balls to attend. It’s not just the ICC that is after him. It’s practically every civic minded world citizen who abhors his war, his bombing of cities and civilians, and the kidnapping of children.
    Even his own people pose a danger to him, hence he is practically never seen in public.
    Notwithstanding the possibility of SA arresting him, would he even trust us to keep him safe?

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    Simple. If Putin steps his small toe in SA arrest the clown and put him in jail.

  • Johann Olivier says:

    I’m sure he’ll travel with at least 120 heavily armed special forces security guards. It has been done before…

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