South Africa plans to roll out the red carpet for Russian despot Vladimir Putin despite an international arrest warrant against him for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
In the latest indication of South Africa’s deepening ties with Moscow, Pretoria is set to host the Russian president for the BRICS bloc summit in August.
It comes after the country initially asked Putin to attend the summit of emerging economies, made up of Russia, South Africa, Brazil, India and China, due to legal issues – an invitation that the Kremlin rejected.
But now, The temperature reports that Deputy to the President Cyril Ramaphosa heads a committee to review international and domestic laws as well as the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court.
It was the ICC that issued an arrest warrant for the Russian leader in March – a move Putin condemned as “outrageous”.
South Africa is set to host Russian despot Vladimir Putin (pictured with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2019) despite an international warrant against him
In the latest indication of South Africa’s deepening ties with Moscow, Pretoria is set to host the Russian president for the BRICS bloc summit in August. Pictured: Putin and Ramaphosa in 2019
The ICC called for Putin’s arrest on March 17 and accused the despot of committing war crimes by abducting Ukrainian children from their homes and deporting them to Russia to give them to Russian families.
South Africa has so far refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while failing to show support for sanctions imposed on Moscow.
Despite the initial legal opinion stating that South Africa was obligated to act on Putin’s arrest warrant, Zane Dangor, director general of the country’s foreign ministry, said: “We have a legal opinion, but further independent legal advice has been sought in order for us to ascertain what action will be taken.’
Considered one of Moscow’s closest allies on the continent, South Africa says it is impartial and has abstained from voting on UN resolutions on the war.
News of Putin’s potential trip to South Africa comes after the United States accused Pretoria of secretly supplying arms to Moscow – a move that would break with its supposed neutrality.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has firmly ruled out any indication that Putin would attend the BRICS bloc summit virtually – more than 10,000 kilometers away.
As Pretoria continues to be friends with Putin, the Russian dictator and Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky have both agreed to meet separately with a delegation of African heads of state to discuss a possible plan to end the war in Ukraine, according to President Ramaphosa.
South Africa has so far refused to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while failing to show support for sanctions imposed on Moscow
The ICC called for Putin’s arrest on March 17 and accused the despot of committing war crimes by abducting Ukrainian children from their homes and deporting them to Russia to give them to Russian families. Pictured: Rescuers remove debris and extinguish the remains of a fire at the site of a rocket strike on the residential building in Uman, Ukraine, April 28
Ramaphosa spoke by phone with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts over the weekend, a spokesman for his office said earlier this week. They agreed to host “a peace mission from African leaders” in Moscow and Kyiv respectively.
Leaders of Zambia, Senegal, Congo, Uganda and Egypt plan to join Ramaphosa on the mission, the president said. He added that Mr Putin and Mr Zelensky had given him the green light to “start preparations”.
But Ramaphosa’s peace talks come amid a visit to Moscow by South African army chief Lt. Gen. Lawrence Mbatha for talks “on combat readiness”.
Irina Filatova, a professor emeritus at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a leading expert on Pretoria-Moscow relations, told The Times the visit was propaganda from Moscow to show they are not isolated by “laws powerless Westerners”.
She said that to be an ally of Russia, you must show that you do not accept the laws enacted by the West.
Ukraine’s military today said it had made further territorial gains amid heavy fighting around the eastern town of Bakhmut, despite being outgunned and outnumbered by Russian forces.
Last week, kyiv said it had stepped up pressure on Muscovite troops north and south of Bakhmut. Russian mercenary forces say they have advanced inside the city, where kyiv has acknowledged making small advances.
Ukrainian officials have signaled that the advances around Bakhmut were not part of a wider counteroffensive planned by kyiv to repel Russian forces.