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Putin’s turnaround: Russian leader to abstain from BRICS summit in South Africa

In a surprising turnaround, South Africa’s presidency announced on Wednesday that, in the end, Russian President Vladimir Putin will not personally attend the BRICS summit in South Africa in August.

In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin for alleged war crimes involving accusations that Russia has forcibly taken Ukrainian children.

In a statement, the South African presidency said that the summit will instead be attended by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, alongside the leaders of Brazil, India, China, and South Africa, adding that the decision was reached “by mutual agreement” between the two countries. This has essentially solved Pretoria’s diplomatic dilemma in that as a host of the summit and at the same time a member of the ICC, it would have otherwise been obliged to arrest Putin for alleged war crimes by Russia during its invasion of Ukraine.

“President Putin decided to take part in the BRICS summit in a video conference format,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was cited as saying by Russian news agencies. “It will be a full-fledged participation.” The announcement, which followed consultations between South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and representatives from the BRICS, ended months of speculation about whether the country would arrest him on an international warrant. “It was highly unlikely, given recent events, that Putin would feel secure being anywhere but safely in Russia and in command,” said J. Peter Pham, former US special envoy for the Sahel region.

Source: The North Africa Post