Russian President Vladimir Putin’s participation in the upcoming BRICS summit in South Africa next month is still uncertain, according to Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov. This comes after an arrest warrant was issued against Putin by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March. The ICC accused him and the country’s commissioner for children’s rights of “forcible transfer of the population” in relation to evacuations of minors from combat zones during the Ukraine conflict.
Russia, however, never ratified the 1998 Rome Statute that established the ICC and has repeatedly emphasized that the court has no authority over the country. Despite this, South Africa is a member of the ICC and is obligated to arrest Putin if he sets foot on its territory. This dilemma has left President Putin’s attendance at the BRICS summit in doubt.
Kremlin Press Secretary Peskov addressed the issue, stating that the format of Putin’s participation in the summit has not been fully determined yet and discussions are ongoing. He assured journalists that once a final decision is made, it will be announced to the public.
The uncertainty surrounding Putin’s attendance was highlighted in a report by South Africa’s Eyewitness News, which quoted Stavros Nicolaou, the head of the BRICS Business Council, saying that “five BRICS heads of state will attend the forum.” The summit is scheduled to take place in Johannesburg from August 22 to 24.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also addressed the speculation about turning the summit into a virtual event due to the arrest warrant. He firmly denied these rumors during a meeting of the BRICS Business Council, stating that the event will be conducted face-to-face, emphasizing the importance of direct interaction.
In an effort to find a solution, South Africa’s Deputy President Paul Mashatile suggested that Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov lead the Russian delegation at the BRICS summit instead of Putin. Mashatile revealed that the Russians are not happy with this proposal and prefer their entire delegation, headed by Putin, to attend. Discussions between South Africa and Russia regarding this matter are still ongoing.
The uncertainty surrounding Putin’s participation in the BRICS summit raises questions about the future of the event. As one of the key participants, Putin’s presence and involvement are seen as essential for the success of the summit. However, with the ICC arrest warrant still in effect, it remains to be seen how the situation will be resolved and whether Putin will ultimately attend the high-profile event with the leaders of China, Brazil, India, and South Africa.
The BRICS summit serves as a platform for these emerging economies to discuss and coordinate on various issues, including economic cooperation, trade, and investment. Without the participation of one of its key members, the dynamics of the summit could be significantly affected. All eyes are now on the ongoing discussions between Russia and South Africa to see how they navigate this complex situation and ensure the successful completion of the BRICS summit.