Russian President Vladimir Putin will not travel to South Africa to attend the upcoming BRICS summit, his spokesperson has announced. Instead, Mr. Putin will participate in the summit through video conference, Russian President’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov declared in a statement on Wednesday.
“Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will attend the summit in person,” said Mr. Peskov, assuring that the Russian President’s participation in the summit would be “full-fledged”. Wednesday’s announcement has ended speculation about Mr. Putin’s presence at the Johannesburg summit that will be held during August 22-24. South Africa is a member of the International Criminal Court which issued a warrant against Mr. Putin in March this year. The action of the ICC put South Africa in a difficult position as it is expected to carry out its obligations as an ICC member.
President Putin had attended the Bali G20 summit last year virtually and the latest decision is reminiscent of that event where Russia was represented by Mr. Lavrov. Russia has faced such moments in multilateral engagements repeatedly since President Putin ordered the “special military operation” against Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Wednesday’s announcement came a day after South Africa hosted leaders of political parties from the BRICS member countries. The summit is likely to provide a glimpse of the moves that will unfold in the run-up to the G-20 summit in India which is on track to be attended by the leaders of the member countries, including President Putin.
The Johannesburg BRICS summit will include a discussion on increasing the number of member states. That apart, the war in Ukraine is likely to feature prominently as BRICS has emerged as a major forum for dealing with the concerns of developing economies. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said “many countries” were interested in joining the organisation and added, “This is also humbling.”
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