Vladimir Putin will be asked by the South African authorities to attend the BRICS summit only remotely or he will have to be arrested, the South African Sunday Times reported. South Africa has refused to support sanctions against Russia or condemn its aggression in Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin was invited to South Africa in view of the summit of the leaders of the five emerging economies that make up the BRICS group in August (BrazilRussia, India, China and South Africa). Under international law, the South African authorities will be obliged to detain Putin if the Russian president, who has been issued an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC), appears in the country.
A few days ago, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a special government commission chaired by the vice president to consider options for the country after issuing an arrest warrant for Putin, the newspaper reports. According to a source quoted by the Sunday Times, the committee is unable to find any other option than for Putin to attend the summit via videoconference from Moscow.
– There is no option not to arrest Putin, if he comes here, we have to arrest him. The only option we have for him is to connect via Teams or Zoom from Moscow, said a senior official who had access to the legal opinion. He confirmed that Pretoria was negotiating with Moscow on the matter.
According to this legal opinion, ignoring the order would violate South Africa’s international obligations and be contrary to South Africa’s law. It was recalled that South Africa’s failure to arrest Omar al-Bashir, then leader of Sudan, during a visit in 2016 was later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
South Africa did not condemn the invasion of Ukraine, saying it wanted to remain neutral and preferred dialogue to end the war. Earlier this year, it conducted joint military exercises with Russia and China, which observers consider to be evidence of the country’s pro-Kremlin sympathies.
The country recently hosted the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian and Chinese warships on joint naval exercises.
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/ALEXEI DANICHEV/SPUTNIK/KREMLIN POOL