(Bloomberg) — Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva risked a clash with fellow Group of 20 leaders after saying that Vladimir Putin would be safe to travel to next year’s G-20 without fear of arrest.
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The Russian leader, who is subject to an international arrest warrant over his invasion of Ukraine, skipped India’s G-20 summit in its second and final day in New Delhi Sunday. Lula, as the Brazilian president is known, said in an interview with Indian TV show Firstpost late on Saturday that Putin will get an invite to next year’s summit.
“I believe that Putin can easily go to Brazil,” Lula said. “What I can tell you is that if I am president of Brazil and he goes to Brazil there is no way he will be arrested.”
The International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest in March for war crimes. But there was speculation that Putin would attend the BRICS summit in Johannesburg in August regardless, a friendlier grouping than the G-20 which includes key Russian trade partners China and India, as well as Brazil and South Africa. A month before, he decided not to attend “by mutual agreement” with South Africa.
While President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government has adopted a non-aligned stance toward Russia’s war and refused to join international sanctions on Russia, South Africa is a signatory to the charter than established the ICC, so is bound by its decisions and would be obliged to arrest Putin if he arrived in the country. Brazil, too, is a signatory of the charter.
Lula said that Russia will host the BRICS summit next year. “Everyone is going to the BRICS meeting and I hope they also come to the G-20 in Brazil,” he said.
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