South Africa’s presidency announced on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be attending the summit of the BRICS group of nations in South Africa in August. The decision was reached by mutual agreement, and instead, Russia will be represented by its Foreign Minister, Mr. Sergey Lavrov.
Vincent Magwenya, spokesman for President Cyril Ramaphosa, conveyed in a statement that hosting the summit posed a dilemma for South Africa. This was due to the fact that a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) had issued an arrest warrant for Putin in March, alleging war crimes. If Putin were to attend the summit, South Africa, as a member of the ICC, would theoretically be required to execute the arrest warrant.
The potential execution of the arrest warrant triggered intense debate in both South Africa and the West. The concern centered around whether South Africa would fulfill the warrant, given its stance of neutrality on the war in Ukraine and its historic ties to the Kremlin. Ultimately, it was decided that Putin would not attend the summit.
The BRICS group of nations consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Originally formed as BRIC in 2009, South Africa joined the bloc the following year upon receiving an invitation from China, expanding the group’s representation of emerging economic powers.
Leaders from Brazil, India, and South Africa will attend the BRICS summit as scheduled, focusing on discussions and collaborations to strengthen cooperation and economic ties among the member countries.