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BRICS: Putin will not attend summit in South Africa

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on July 18, 2023.   -  
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Alexander Kazakov/Sputnik

South Africa

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the BRICS summit in South Africa in August, South Africa's presidency said on Wednesday.

The summit will instead be attended by Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, alongside the leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa. In a statement, the South African presidency said the decision was reached "by mutual agreement" between the two countries. 

Putin's possible attendance at the summit had presented a diplomatic dilemma for South Africa. The Russian President is under arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes linked to the war in Ukraine. 

As an ICC member, South Africa would be obliged to arrest Putin were he to appear in person at the summit. 

On Tuesday, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa asked permission from the ICC not to arrest Putin, according to a local court submission published on Tuesday. Ramaphosa said that arresting Putin would amount to a declaration of war. 

The Kremlin responded on Wednesday saying Russia did not tell South Africa that arresting Putin on an ICC arrest warrant would mean "war". 

South Africa has refused to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine, saying it is neutral and favours dialogue. However, the country has been criticised by Western powers for its closeness to Moscow.

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