Vladimir Putin: South African President warns against arresting the leader if visits the country

Vladimir Putin has been invited to attend BRICS summer next month despite the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant. South Africa that hosts the event fears that detaining him could lead to a ‘declaration of war’.

Vladimir Putin: South African President warns against arresting the leader during his visit
© Photo by Contributor/Getty Images
Vladimir Putin: South African President warns against arresting the leader during his visit

Disclaimer: Since this article was published it was revealed the Vladimir Putin will not be attending BRICS next month.

Discover our latest podcast

Vladimir Putin was invited to the BRICS summit in Johannesburg next month and despite multiple pleas from the organisers and his supporters, if he plans to attend it.

The earlier International Criminal Court decision concerning the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia means that the Kremlin leader is in fact an international criminal and that South Africa has the responsibility to detain him and hand him in for a trial in The Hague, Netherlands once he steps foot on their soil.

But the multi-capital state is facing a diplomatic dilemma as their current president Cyril Ramaphosa believes that the ‘risky’ move will undermine not only South African national security but also Africa’s efforts to help Moscow and Kyiv agree on peace conditions.

The opposition disagrees and pushes the South African leader to follow the law for the sake of the country’s international reputation.

Here is what we know.

Vladimir Putin may be arrested in South Africa next month

South Africa is hosting this year’s summit for BRICS - the economy-centred group that stands for Brazil, Russia, India and China, with S having been added for South Africa in 2010. The organisation sees itself as a counterbalance to Western economic domination.

It is only natural that Vladimir Putinwas invited to the gathering which will take place in Johannesburg.

But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine puts the organisers of the summit in a tough spot, especially since the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the Russian President after he was found responsible for the unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia.

ICC’s decision means that South Africa - as its member - would be expected to obey the warrant.

The country’s leader Cyril Ramaphosa said in court papers released on Tuesday that ‘Russia has made it clear that arresting its sitting President would be a declaration of war.’

He fears that detaining Putin if he visits the country next month would lead to a serious confrontation. It would also undermine the South African-led mission to end the war in Ukraine.

Last month, Ramaphosa led a seven-country African peace delegation including representatives from Egypt, Senegal and Zambia, to talks in Kyiv and Saint Petersburg.

Read more:

Vladimir Putin: US general believes Wagner boss could be dead after failed 'mutiny'

Russian official warns Vladimir Putin could be removed as President by inner circle

South Africa is divided over Vladimir Putin’s visit

The dilemma of whether to arrest Vladimir Putin or not reached the South African court, with the leading opposition party - the Democratic Alliance (DA) - pushing for the government to make sure the Kremlin leader is held and handed over to the ICC once he steps foot in the country.

Ramaphosa is insisting that this approach is ‘irresponsible’ as it also poses a threat to national security and is seeking an exemption under ICC rules on these grounds.

There is an opening in the ICC treaty that allows member countries to bend the rules where international diplomatic immunity is concerned.

South African Deputy President Paul Mashatile has said that his government has been unsuccessfully trying to persuade Putin not to come.

Meanwhile, DA leader John Steenhuisen believes that Ramaphosa’s argument that South Africa risked war with Russia is ‘farcical’ and ‘flimsy’.

He commented:

When foreign policy decisions have the capacity to decimate South Africa’s international reputation … and decimate our economy, it is crucial that government uphold its obligation to be open and transparent.

South Africa has strong economic ties with the United States and Europe. Although the trade with Russia is much smaller, Pretoria has historic ties with Moscow dating back to the country’s struggle against apartheid.

Read more:

Vladimir Putin's chain of command is at risk as he faces another problem within regime

Vladimir Putin: Russian lawmaker claims the leader is preparing for attack on yet another country

Sources used:

- Al Jazeera: 'South Africa says arresting Putin would be ‘declaration of war’'

Former Russian President issues stark warning to this European country if it arrests Putin Former Russian President issues stark warning to this European country if it arrests Putin