South Africa expressed concerns on Wednesday over the impact of ICC arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, ahead of the country’s hosting of a BRICS summit in August.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, stated that the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) had complicated matters for the summit, which brings together Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
As a member of the ICC, South Africa would be expected to arrest Putin if he sets foot in the country, as he is charged with ordering the unlawful removal of Ukrainian children during the ongoing war. This has put the country in a diplomatic dilemma, given its close ties with Moscow and its refusal to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Magwenya confirmed that further engagements were underway to address the issue, and once concluded, necessary announcements would be made. Local newspaper, the City Press, speculated that South Africa may consider holding a hybrid meeting for the summit, with some leaders attending physically and others, like Putin, attending virtually.
The Democratic Alliance, the leading opposition party, has called for Putin’s arrest if he visits South Africa, and for the ICC to take action. On the other hand, leftist parties, including the South African Communist Party, a close ally of the ruling African National Congress, have urged the government to welcome Putin and pull out of the ICC instead.
The situation has added complexity to South Africa’s hosting of the BRICS summit and raised diplomatic challenges as the country grapples with the ICC arrest warrant for Putin while balancing its relationships with Russia and international obligations.