South Africa announced on Thursday its decision to proceed as planned and host the upcoming BRICSbloc summit in August. The confirmation comes amidst rumors suggesting a possible venue change to China, in order to accommodate Russian President Vladimir Putin and avoid potential war crimes accusations
South Africa Should Arrest Putin
Being a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC), South Africa is obligated to arrest Putin if he attends the summit. The Russian leader faces an outstanding arrest warrant related to the deportation of children from Ukraine. To address this concern, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa recently held talks with Putin during his visit to Russia, strengthening the historical ties between the African National Congress (ANC) and Russia.
In an official statement, the Department of International Relations stated, “South Africa will host the 15th BRICS Summit at the Sandton Convention Centre in Sandton, Johannesburg, from 22 to 24 August 2023.” The spokesperson for the Presidency, Vincent Magwenya, confirmed that the entire summit, including the crucial segment involving the BRICS heads of state, would take place in South Africa.
Although SA officials had previously hinted at the possibility of relocating the summit to China, a non-member of the international court, they have now affirmed their commitment to hosting the event in South Africa. Nevertheless, a last-minute change in venue remains a potential option.
South Africa’s Minister of International Relations, Naledi Pandor, disclosed on Tuesday that Putin had not yet responded to an invitation extended prior to his ICC charges on March 18. Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have all expressed their intentions to attend the summit, according to Pandor.
While SA maintains a neutral stance on the Ukraine conflict, it has faced criticism from Western powers for its perceived friendliness towards Russia. The nation has hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and conducted joint naval exercises, contributing to concerns raised by Western countries.