Putin wants to attend a summit in August. Hosts South Africa don’t want to have to stop him

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to attend an economic summit in South Africa next month and the country is desperately trying to persuade him to stay away to avoid legal and diplomatic fallout from his international arrest warrant, South African Vice President said in an interview with a news site on Friday.

As a signatory to the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court, South Africa is obligated to arrest Putin on an indictment the court issued against the Russian leader in March for war crimes involving the kidnapping of Ukrainian children.

Moscow rejected the warrant. South African authorities are likely to breach the treaty and not arrest Putin, but some opposition parties, rights groups and legal activists have said he should be arrested and have threatened to do so themselves , raising security concerns for the BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

Having already decided not to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, South Africa faces the prospect of even more strained relations with the West if it allows Putin to freely attend the bloc’s summit. BRICS emerging economies made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and Southern countries. Africa.

Putin has not yet visited a country that has signed the judicial treaty since the arrest warrant was issued against him.

The Kremlin did not say Putin would be present and the brief rebellion in Russia by the private military group Wagner appeared to make it unlikely that he would travel after such a serious threat to his rule.

But Russia wants Putin to be there alongside Chinese leader Xi Jinping and other presidents, South African Vice President Paul Mashatile said in an interview with News24, one of South Africa’s leading news outlets. . All leaders were invited to the summit before the indictment against Putin was issued, South Africa said.

“It’s a big dilemma for us. Of course, we can’t stop him,” Mashatile said. “It’s almost like you invite your friend to your house and then you stop him. That’s why for us it just doesn’t come is the best solution. The Russians are not happy, however. They want him to come.”

Mashatile has been tasked with finding a solution by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. Russia rejected the alternatives, which included moving the summit to China, holding a virtual summit or having Russia represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Mashatile said.

Ramaphosa will now try to convince Putin not to visit South Africa when they meet at the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg later this month, Mashatile said.

“We have now decided to leave this matter to the president, who talks to Putin,” Mashatile said. “The president is going to the Russia-Africa summit later this month, so they will keep talking. We want to show him the challenges we face because we are part of the Rome Statute and we cannot get out of it.

South Africa has a history on the matter after it failed in 2015 to arrest then-Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during a visit to South Africa while he was wanted by the court of the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Allowing Putin to attend the BRICS meeting would put more strain on South Africa’s relations with the United States and its other key Western diplomatic and trade partners.

Relations between the United States and South Africa are already strained after the United States accused Africa’s most developed country of supplying arms to Moscow for the war in Ukraine on a Russian cargo ship which visited South Africa’s main naval base near Cape Town in December.

South Africa has denied any arms deals, but Ramaphosa has ordered an investigation into the visit to the Lady R ship, which is under US sanctions for allegedly transporting arms to Moscow.


AP Africa News: https://apnews.com/hub/africa

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