Russian President, Putin Will Not Attend BRICS Summit, Says South Africa

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the summit of the BRICS group of nations in South Africa in August “by mutual agreement”. 

Vincent Magwenya, a spokesman for President Cyril Ramaphosa, in a statement on Wednesday, said Russia will be represented by its Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov instead, Reuters reports.

“By mutual agreement, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation will not attend the summit, but the Russian Federation will be represented by Foreign Minister Mr (Sergei) Lavrov,” he said.

South Africa faced a dilemma in hosting the summit because, as a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), it would theoretically be required to arrest Putin for alleged war crimes if he were to attend.

The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Putin.

The leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa will attend the summit, the presidency said.

Earlier, Ramaphosa said arresting Putin would amount to a declaration of war on Russia.

Ramaphosa wrote this in court papers released on Tuesday as the country wrangled over hosting Putin.

The leading opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), had tried to force the government’s hand to ensure Putin’s arrest if he stepped into South Africa.

But in a responding affidavit, Ramaphosa described the DA’s application as “irresponsible” and said national security was at stake, Moscow Times reports.

“Russia has made it clear that arresting its sitting President would be a declaration of war,” he said.

“It would be inconsistent with our Constitution to risk engaging in war with Russia,” he said, adding that this would go against his duty to protect the country.

“The arrest would also undermine a South African-led mission to end the war in Ukraine and “foreclose any peaceful solution,” Ramaphosa wrote.