Vladimir Putin cut a deeply isolated figure as he delivered his speech to fellow leaders of BRICS members.
On Wednesday (August 23), the Russian president addressed the world and the summit held in South Africa via video link.
The leader was filmed sitting behind a white round table in a room filled with screens. As he spoke with flags of BRICS members displayed in the background, Putin appeared to be alone in the room.
Putin didn’t attend the event in person amid fears the arrest warrant issued by the International Crime Court (ICC) in March would be enforced, signalling the decision to invade Ukraine is isolating the president even from his allies.
The ICC warrant is accusing the president of war crimes linked to the alleged “deportation and transfer” of Ukrainian children from territories part of Ukraine but occupied by Moscow.
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Russia has rejected the accusation as outrageous and said the warrant has no legal meaning because Moscow is not a member of the ICC.
But, as South Africa is a member, the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa would be forced to enforce the warrant should Putin cross his nation’s borders.
The warrant put Mr Ramaphosa in a difficult position ahead of the summit, as while South Africa continued to proclaim itself neutral in the conflict between Moscow and Kyiv, it is one of the African nations close to Russia.
Despite his lonely appearance via video link, Putin didn’t fail to use his speech to place the blame on others for the unlawful invasion he ordered.
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Pushing further the narrative Russia was forced to attack Kyiv, the Russian president said: “Our actions in Ukraine are dictated by only one thing – to end the war that was unleashed by the West and its satellites against the people who live in the Donbas.
“I want to note that it was the desire to maintain their hegemony in the world, the desire of some countries to maintain this hegemony that led to the severe crisis in Ukraine.”
Brazil, one of the BRICS members, said to be ready to join the efforts to bring Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table and end the conflict.
However, Russia and Ukraine fundamentally disagree on the peace terms, as Kyiv wants to see the return of all the territories occupied by Moscow, while Putin previously said talks should consider the “new realities” created by his troops, who occupied four Ukrainian regions in February 2022 as well as Crimea in 2014.
During his speech on Wednesday, Putin also complained to fellow BRICS members – Brazil, India, China and South Africa – about the terms of the Black Sea grain deal which he ended in July, saying: “A total of 32 million tonnes of cargo has been exported from Ukraine and only about three per cent have gone to the least developed countries – less than one million tonnes.
“None of the terms of the so-called deal concerning the lifting of sanctions imposed on Russian exports of grain and fertilisers to world markets have been fulfilled. Obligations to Russia in this regard have been simply ignored.”
The grain deal had allowed over the past year the safe passage to and from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea of grains and seed oils.
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