(HorizonPost.com) – Last Wednesday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not attend the BRICS summit in person next month, CNN reported.
Ramaphosa’s office said it was “by mutual agreement” that President Putin would not attend the August summit in Johannesburg and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would attend in his place.
Russian state media later reported that President Putin would appear at the summit via video link. The leaders from the other BRICS economic bloc, Brazil, India, and China, are expected to attend the Johannesburg summit in person.
According to Reuters, Putin’s decision not to attend ends months of speculation over whether South Africa would be obliged to take him into custody on an international warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In mid-March, the ICC issued a warrant for the arrest of President Putin and his commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova, accusing them of committing a war crime for the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children.
The Associated Press reported at the time that this was the first time the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for a leader of one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
The ICC accused Putin and Lvova-Belova of unlawfully transferring Ukrainian orphans out of Russian-occupied territory to the Russian Federation, which is a war crime.
Without a police force, the ICC must rely on the 123 member countries, including South Africa, to make the arrest. However, a member country can only make an arrest if the target of the ICC warrant sets foot in the country.
Putin’s decision not to attend next month’s summit spares South Africa from the dilemma of being obligated to place him in custody.
South Africa has remained neutral in the conflict in Ukraine. However, Western countries have criticized South Africa for remaining friendly with Russia.
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