Johannesburg – Foreign ministers from the five BRICS bloc countries of developing economies, Brazil, Russia, China, India and South Africa, were meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, on Thursday amid growing speculation about thea peak in August in the country. In March, the International Criminal Court (ICC) on alleged he could therefore potentially be arrested if he sets foot in South Africa, which is a signatory country to the ICC.
The South African government has said it is seeking legal advice on possible loopholes in the Rome Statute, which created the international court, that could allow Putin to attend the high-level BRICS summit this summer.
On Monday, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor announced an order granting diplomatic immunity to all foreign dignitaries attending this week’s meeting, as well as the next one in August. It was the clearest signal yet that the South African government is keen to allow Putin to attend the meeting.
Obed Bapela, a senior official in the South African presidential office, told the BBC World Service, meanwhile, that the government planned to submit changes to the country’s laws, in particular the implementation act, to parliament in June. implementation of the ICC, which would give leaders the power to decide who to arrest, regardless of ICC warrants.
Bapela said the government would also seek a specific waiver from the ICC to ensure it would not have to arrest Putin if he showed up in August.
The Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s main opposition party, has filed a lawsuit to force the authorities to arrest Putin if he comes this summer.
Speaking at the National Assembly in Cape Town on Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said there had been “concerted efforts to draw South Africa into the wider geopolitical competition around the Russia-Ukraine conflict. we have always maintained our non-aligned position, our respect for the Charter of the United Nations and for the peaceful resolution of conflicts through dialogue.
As the debate over a possible visit by Putin intensified, Ramaphosa said he would send four of his senior government ministers, including Pandor, to G7 countries as envoys to explain the commitment of the South Africa to adopt a “non-aligned” position on Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Earlier in May, Ramaphosa announced a “peace mission” by African leaders to Ukraine and Russia in June. Ukrainian Presidents Putin and Volodymyr Zelenskyy have said they will meet African heads of state, who will be led by Ramaphosa.
“Principal of our discussions are efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the devastating conflict in Ukraine,” Ramaphosa said when announcing the mission by himself and six other African heads of state.
The BRICS meetings follow a late May summit of Group of Seven (G-7) leaders in Japan. This meeting was marked by the United States and the world’s other largest economies hitting Russia with a series of new sanctions for its ongoing invasion of Ukraine, and talks of fighting an increasingly China. affirmed.
South Africa was not invited to the recent G-7 summit – the first time the country was not invited since Ramaphosa took office in 2018.
US Ambassador to South Africa Reuben Brigety, who on May 11 accused the country of supplying Russia with weapons at odds with its declared neutrality in Ukraine, noted that BRICS officials had portrayed the bloc as a “counterpoint” to the G-7, and he made it clear that the United States was watching.
“Our officials have expressed some pretty serious concern about the explicit articulation of the BRICS setup as, quote-unquote, a counterpoint to the G-7,” Brigety said. “Of course, South Africa is free to choose its diplomatic and economic partners as it sees fit, as is the United States of America.”
“It’s not about intimidation, as I often hear in this context. It’s not about threat,” Brigety said. “That’s how any relationship works.”
Regarding the prospect of a visit by Putin to South Africa in August and the authorities’ refusal to place him under arrest under its obligations as an ICC signatory country, Brigety said the United States could not “understand why the South African government would not publicly and fully commit to the obligations it voluntarily imposed on itself.”
South African-American relationssince the country affirmed its “non-aligned position” on the Russian war in Ukraine, and they deteriorated further when Brigety accused South Africa of secretly loading weapons on a sanctioned Russian ship in the port of Simon’s Town in December 2022, before the ship returns to Russia with its contents.
His remarks came after tension erupted in February over South Africa’s decision tooff its coast with Russian and Chinese warships, as the world marked a full year since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
During Thursday’s meetings in Cape Town, the five BRICS foreign ministers will be joined virtually by their counterparts from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Argentina and the Republic democracy, to name a few.
This larger group, called “Friends of the BRICS”, represents a growing set of nations from the so-called Global South who wish to join the BRICS bloc.
Russian news agency TASS quoted a source on May 26 as saying that Putin had “not withdrawn his participation in the summit”, adding: “The Russian leader was invited.”