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Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the BRICS summit next month in South Africa. Putin will be the only BRICS leader to participate digitally in the summit, while all other leaders will attend in person in South Africa.
“By mutual agreement, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation will not attend the summit, but the Russian Federation will be represented by Foreign Minister Mr. Sergei Lavrov,” South African President Jacob Zuma stated in a statement.
Dmitry Peskov, a Russian spokesperson, also stated that Putin will attend the ceremony via video conference while Foreign Minister Lavrov will be present in person.
The action is considered as a big blow for Putin, who has used his links with the BRICS nations – India, China, Brazil, and South Africa – as proof that US and European efforts to isolate him over the Ukraine conflict have failed.
Why will Russian President Vladimir Putin skip the BRICS summit?
In March of this year, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Putin, charging him with the war crime of deporting Ukrainian children. If Putin leaves Russian territory, he might be detained under the warrant.
South Africa signed the Rome Statute, which formed the ICC and is bound by its rulings. However, during the African Summit in 2015, the African country drew international criticism for refusing to execute an ICC arrest warrant against then-Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
To make matters even more complicated, South Africa’s major opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has requested a Pretoria court to order the government to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he attended the BRICS conference.
According to South African President’s spokesman Vincent Magwenya, Putin’s decision not to attend the BRICS meeting was decided after a “series of consultations” that lasted till last night.