Putin’s visit, a headache for the South African government


Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend the BRICS Summit in August this year at the invitation of the South African government. BRICS is a group of the world’s largest emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which recently joined.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague has issued a warrant to the Russian leader for war crimes derived from the conflict with Ukraine that began more than a year ago, on February 28, 2022.

The ICC order means that South Africa, a signatory to the ICC, will be obliged to arrest Putin and hand him over if he sets foot on South African soil. The war has caused economic suffering around the world and has affected imports, exports and the supply of gas and wheat. Significant political and economic challenges for African countries they were the result. Already reeling from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war and its economic fallout brought further pain as high food and fuel prices worsened the political instability facing many countries.

South Africa has remained neutral in its stance on the war, much to the dismay of the US and Brussels. Analysts have said the flurry of diplomatic activity comes as the West and Russia seek South Africa’s support over the war in Ukraine.

Historically, the South African government has strong ties to Russia. The country provided refuge to political exiles during apartheid and provided training and tactical weapons to uMkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the now-ruling African National Congress, during the liberation struggle.

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South Africa’s Minister for International Relations Naledi Pandor has said the ICC, to which South Africa is a signatory, has not been “impartial” as an arbitrator in international affairs. Ms Pandor said that while she has not said that the ICC is “wrong” in issuing the arrest warrant for Putin, she expressed deep doubts regarding the international court’s decision, arguing that the ICC turns a blind eye to other global atrocities.

Meanwhile, the South African opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has said that the Russian leader is “welcome to attend the BRICS summit”. Party leader Julius Malema said Russia has always been a “friend of South Africa”.

ALSO READ: Russia-Ukraine war: ICC issues arrest warrant for Putin on alleged war crimes

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has urged the South African government to use its ties with Russia to convince Moscow to stop its war against Ukraine, all of Africa reports.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said an attempt by any country to arrest Putin with a warrant issued by the ICC would be “taken as a declaration of war.” Deutsche Welle reports.

Meanwhile, the South African government is receiving legal advice on Putin’s visit. News 24 reports.

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Putin's visit, a headache for the South African government

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