Back in May, the Sunday Times reported that Pretoria had earlier considered requesting that Moscow attend the summit virtually – something Russia would have taken as an insult. The suggestion to attend virtually came after the South African government "sought legal advice about its obligations to arrest the Russian leader, who has been indicted for war crimes by the ICC."
First signed in 1998 at the Italian capital, the Rome Statute took effect in 2002 – establishing the ICC. South Africa remains a signatory to the treaty as of writing. Meanwhile, Russia withdrew its signature from the Rome Statute in 2016.
Pretoria's exhortations for Putin not to attend in person eventually became less subtle, to the point that South Africa simply asked the Russian leader to eschew the five-nation group's August 2023 summit.
"We would be happy if he [Putin] doesn't come," said South African Deputy President Paul Mashatile. "We understand we are bound by the Rome Statute, but we can't invite someone and then … arrest them. You can understand our dilemma." (Related: International legal body (that's not recognized by the USA) issues arrest warrant for Russia's Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes involving children.)
The Kremlin swiftly rejected the request, adding that South Africa has clear obligations. One Russian official told the Moscow Times that Pretoria gave "security guarantees" for Putin when South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visited St. Petersburg in June 2023.
For his part, Ramaphosa – who is mainly seen as sympathetic to his Russian counterpart – has repeatedly stressed that the summit will be held face-to-face. Major BRICS members, including India and Brazil, have rejected a suggestion to hold the entire summit virtually.
"There were rumors that this too could be an online summit – no. It is going to be face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball," said the South African president, adding that Putin hasn't wavered on his intent to attend.
South Africa is among the five nations that make up the BRICS group – alongside Brazil, Russia, India and China. The country has not condemned Russia's special military operation in Ukraine, saying it remains impartial and prefers dialogue as it spearheads an African initiative to resolve the conflict.
In line with this, Ramaphosa doubled down on his defense of Putin per a BBC report. According to the South African leader, any attempt to serve the ICC arrest warrant and apprehend his Russian counterpart would be a declaration of war against Moscow.
Court documents obtained by the British broadcaster said Ramaphosa is firmly against such a move over national security concerns. He noted in an affidavit: "South Africa has obvious problems with executing a request to arrest and surrender Putin."
"Russia has made it clear that arresting its sitting president would be a declaration of war. It would be inconsistent with [the South African] constitution to risk engaging in war with Russia."
The South African leader added that his nation is one of many in Africa holding talks with both Moscow and Kyiv "with a view of ending the war altogether." Attempting to arrest the Russian president would be counter-productive.
Ramaphosa's warning came weeks before the 2023 BRICS Summit scheduled in August. Given that Pretoria is a signatory to the Rome Statute, it should be aiding efforts to arrest the Russian president.
However, the BBC noted in its report that South Africa "has refused to honor that obligation" to the ICC in the past. In 2015, it allowed safe passage to former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. The erstwhile Sudanese leader wanted for crimes against his own people, was eventually turned over to the ICC in 2021.
Read more stories like this at NationalSecurity.news.
Watch this Russia Today report about the BRICS group planning a new gold-backed currency – a potential topic of discussion at its August 2023 summit.
This video is from the Puretrauma357 channel on Brighteon.com.