Berlin South Africa is looking at ways to avoid arresting Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in August. The country is hosting the upcoming BRICS summit.
Their heads of state are expected to attend, including Putin. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant against the Russian President for war crimes. As a member of the ICC, South Africa would therefore be obliged to arrest Putin if he appeared at the summit.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked the ICC not to arrest Putin, saying it would be tantamount to “a declaration of war,” according to a local court document released on Tuesday. Ramaphosa commented on a lawsuit by the opposition, which wants to force him to arrest Putin if he enters the country.
Ramaphosa said he has initiated an Article 97 procedure with the ICC, which states can invoke when they are unable to make an arrest because of impediments.
“South Africa is having apparent problems fulfilling a request for the arrest and extradition of President Putin,” the affidavit said. Russia had made it clear “that the arrest of its incumbent president would be tantamount to a declaration of war”. This is exactly what ex-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in March.
Ramaphosa recently visited Kyiv and Moscow
South African authorities have repeatedly said the summit will go ahead despite the controversy. But there is also speculation that the meeting could be moved to China because of the problem. The country is not a member of the ICC.
Ramaphosa was in Kyiv and Moscow in June as part of a peace initiative with other African leaders. In his submission to the court, he now indicated that these efforts could be jeopardized: “An arrest of President Putin would lead to a new complication that would rule out any peaceful solution,” it said. The Kremlin has not yet publicly stated whether Putin will attend the summit. According to Ramaphosa, the decision is still open.
This is how the Handelsblatt reports on the Ukraine war:
South Africa’s Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said at a UN event marking the 25th anniversary of the ICC on Monday that it must be careful not to become an instrument of global power struggles. South Africa officially describes itself as neutral in the Ukraine war. However, Western countries consider it a close ally of Moscow.
More: All developments in the Ukraine war in our news blog