Putin May Join South Africa’s BRICS Summit Virtually

Mikhail Metzel / TASS Host Photo Agency
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, left, and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa at the first plenary session of the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit at the Sirius Park of Science and Art in Sochi, Russia, 24 October 2019 (file photo).

By Andre van Wyk

Cape Town — The South African government has elected to consider allowing Vladimir Putin’s remote attendance to the 2023 BRICS summit ion an effort to navigate the bureaucratic headache that the Russian leader’s presence risks due to the warrant of arrest issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his capture.

According to City Press, a hybrid sitting is under consideration for the summit which would allow multiple leaders, including Putin, to attend the event virtually.

A government official said: “The Ramaphosa administration is the one that revoked the earlier decision to leave the ICC and decided the country would stay. So they can’t now go against their own decision by allowing Putin to come. They would not want to take decisions that might harm the interest of the country in the long term. South Africa does not want to be a pariah state.”

Per the ICC’s jurisdiction under the Rome Statue, South Africa is obliged to arrest Putin should he enter the country. Russia’s war with Ukraine has caused economic suffering around the world, and has impacted on imports, exports and the supply of gas and wheat. Significant political and economic challenges for African countries were the result.

Already reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the conflict and its economic fallout brought more pain as high food and fuel prices worsened the political instability many countries are facing.

South Africa has remained neutral in its stance on the war – much to the dismay of the U.S. and Brussels. Analysts have said the flurry of diplomatic activity comes as the West and Russia both seek South Africa’s support regarding the war in Ukraine.

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