Putin opted out not to ‘jeopardise’ BRICS summit: S.AfricaThu, 20 Jul 2023 12:05:29 GMT

Russian President Vladimir Putin decided against attending an upcoming BRICS summit in Johannesburg in person because he did not want to “jeopardise” the talks, a top South African diplomat said Thursday.Putin’s potential visit had posed a diplomatic and legal dilemma for South Africa ahead of the August 22-24 meeting.He is the target of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant — a provision that South Africa as an ICC member would be expected to implement if he to set foot in the country.President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office ended the uncertainty on Wednesday, announcing that Putin would not be attending in person and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would go in his place.South Africa’s ambassador-at-large for Asia and the BRICS, Anil Sooklal, said that under a “collectively” reached decision Putin would take part in the discussions virtually.”President Putin understands the dilemma that South Africa faces, but he didn’t want to jeopardise the summit, he didn’t want to create problems for South Africa,” Sooklal told a media briefing in Johannesburg. Pretoria is the current chair of the BRICS group, an acronym for heavyweights Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which sees itself as a counterweight to Western economic domination.South Africa had been under heavy domestic and international pressure not to host the Russian leader.Sooklal said despite Putin’s absence the government was confident that the talks would “be a success”.The Russian leader “will participate fully in all the discussions,” albeit remotely, he said. Putin is being sought over accusations that Russia unlawfully deported Ukrainian children after it invaded its neighbour in February 2022.