Russian President Vladimir Putin’s presence at the upcoming BRICS economic grouping summit in Johannesburg is in jeopardy as he will be absent by “mutual agreement,” according to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Moscow’s delegation will be led by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as reported by the Russian news agency TASS. The decision comes amid the threat of arrest for Putin in South Africa, prompted by an international arrest warrant.
The South African presidential office released an official statement announcing the participation of “leaders of Brazil, India, China, and South Africa” at the summit scheduled from August 22nd to 24th. However, Putin’s absence was confirmed as a result of mutual agreement between Russia and South Africa. Instead, Lavrov will head the Russian Federation delegation.
South Africa’s jurisdiction falls under the International Criminal Court (ICC), which issued an arrest warrant for Putin and children’s rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova in March. The court initiated their prosecution in connection with the Ukrainian conflict, specifically focusing on the abduction of Ukrainian children from occupied territories.
Putin’s attendance at the summit would have put South Africa in a difficult position, given its obligation as an ICC member to detain individuals subject to arrest warrants. Russia has previously stated that such an action would be interpreted as a declaration of war.