South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has said that his country might risk a war with Russia if they arrest President Vladimir V. Putin at an upcoming diplomatic summit in Johannesburg.
The summit, planned for next month, is a gathering of the BRICS nations, including Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
The arrest warrant for President Putin has been issued by the International Criminal Court for allegations related to the conflict in Ukraine.
As a country that signed the court’s agreement, South Africa is legally obliged to catch the Russian leader if he comes to their country.
However, Russia has clearly warned that arresting Putin would be seen as a declaration of war.
President Ramaphosa emphasized that going to war with Russia would go against South Africa’s Constitution and its commitment to peace.
In his 32-page affidavit, he responded to a petition from the Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s largest opposition party, which demanded the government arrest Putin if he attended the Johannesburg summit.
Moreover, Ramaphosa argued that arresting Putin could ruin South Africa’s efforts to make peace between Russia and Ukraine.
He participated in a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Putin in St. Petersburg last month, aiming to find a solution to the ongoing conflict, despite facing doubt from both sides.
South Africa is exploring different options to avoid arresting Putin during the summit. President Ramaphosa is currently talking to the leaders of each BRICS nation and asked the court to understand and give him time to finish these talks.
One option considered was holding the summit virtually or moving it to China, but both ideas were rejected by South Africa’s BRICS partners.
Also, Russian officials declined the suggestion of sending Putin’s foreign minister as a representative to the summit.
The BRICS summit is scheduled to take place from August 22 to August 24. As the situation changes, South Africa faces delicate diplomatic challenges in balancing its legal obligations with its desire to keep peaceful relations with Russia and its fellow BRICS nations.