Putin will not attend the BRICS group summit taking place next month, South African Cyril Ramaphosa, president of the country hosting the event, has announced.
This decision will shield the Russian President from an arrest in the wake of his ICC warrant.
And it will spare Mr Ramaphosa from calling for the arrest of Putin, something he would have been theoretically obliged to do had the Russian leader crossed the South African border, as the country is a member of the ICC.
The issue of the arrest was not mentioned in the statement released by Pretoria on Wednesday.
Vincent Magwenya, a spokesman for President Cyril Ramaphosa, said: “By mutual agreement, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation will not attend the summit, but the Russian Federation will be represented by Foreign Minister Mr [Sergei] Lavrov.”
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The South African dilemma regarding Putin’s arrest warrant has been at the centre of an intense debate for weeks, with Western nations wondering whether Mr Ramaphosa would pursue the arrest.
The president was caught between a rock and a hard place due to his country’s neutrality when it comes to the war in Ukraine and Pretoria’s historic close ties with Moscow.
This difficulty was made apparent on Tuesday (July 18), when Mr Ramaphosa asked permission from the ICC not to arrest Putin.
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Enforcing the warrant would amount to a declaration of war, the South African president argued, according to a local court submission.
On Wednesday, Moscow stressed it hadn’t told Pretoria that arresting Putin on an ICC warrant would mean “war”.
However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that everyone understood what an attempt to infringe on the Russian leader’s rights would mean.
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The ICC warrant regards the alleged deportation of children from Russian-held territories in Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights, was also slapped with an ICC arrest warrant in March due to allegations similar to those against Putin.
Putin doesn’t conceal the programme under which thousands of Ukrainian children have been relocated to Russia but claims it is part of a humanitarian campaign to protect children who are either orphans or abandoned in the war zone.
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