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