Putin Faces Arrest at South African Summit

Putin looking exasperated. | Image by Harold Escalona, Shutterstock

An economic summit scheduled to be held in South Africa this summer might land Russian President Vladimir Putin in jail should he decide to attend.

The economic bloc formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS) has been holding summits since it came together as an alternative to the G7 in 2009.

The next summit will take place in South Africa, presenting a problem since the host is a member of the International Criminal Court, which issued a warrant for the Russian president’s arrest in mid-March.

As an unnamed senior South African government official recently told the local news outlet Sunday Times, according to Fox News, “There is no option not to arrest Putin — if he comes here, we have to arrest him.”

The ICC’s arrest warrant for both Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the presidential commissioner for children’s rights in Russia, is based on their alleged involvement in deporting and transporting Ukrainian children from areas occupied by Russian forces to the Russian Federation.

These acts constitute war crimes as outlined in Article 8 of the ICC’s Rome Statute, which was ratified by South Africa.

Shortly after the ICC announced its arrest warrant for Putin, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa reacted by saying that the country’s governing party had decided to pull out of ICC membership, according to Reuters.

This would mark South Africa’s second attempt to do so. The first attempt to leave the ICC was initiated seven years prior and required a majority vote from the country’s parliament. The initiative had been abandoned shortly before Ramaphosa’s statement.

A day after Ramaphosa announced this second attempt to quit the ICC, the African National Congress, the country’s governing party, released a statement backpedaling and claiming that it was “an error,” according to Fox News.

Speaking on May 4 before the ICC at The Hague, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked the international community to hold Putin accountable “for his criminal actions right here, in the capital of international law.”

“Impunity is the key that opens the door to aggression,” Zelenskyy added, per the official website of the Ukrainian presidential office. “Whoever brings war, must receive judgment.”

As The Dallas Express reported, the allegations of war crimes currently swirling around Russian leaders and military forces extend far beyond those included in Putin’s arrest warrant.

For instance, in mid-April, a video of what appears to be a Ukrainian POW being beheaded by a Russian soldier circulated on social media and incensed Ukraine and its allies.

South Africa has tried to maintain its neutrality since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

Its participation in joint naval drills with Russian and Chinese forces earlier this year was criticized by many of Ukraine’s supporters, such as the U.S.

Yet South Africa finds itself in a delicate situation due to its economic connections with Russia through the BRICS bloc.

Recent macroeconomic data from a British consultancy called Acorn Macro Consulting show that the BRICS bloc currently contributes 31.5% to the global GDP, which is more than the G7’s contribution of 30.7%.

Seemingly stuck, South African leadership is allegedly trying to encourage Putin to attend the upcoming summit on Zoom.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov confirmed Russia’s participation in the BRICS summit in late April. He did not provide any further details.

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