Is Putin’s visit a headache for South African govt? Reports

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On invitation from the South African government, Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, will attend the BRICS Summit in August this year. BRICS is an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, the world’s largest emerging economies.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes committed during the conflict with Ukraine, which began more than a year ago on February 28, 2022.

The ICC warrant requires South Africa, a signatory to the ICC, to arrest and hand over Mr Putin if he sets foot on South African soil. The war has caused economic hardship throughout the world, affecting imports, exports, and the supply of petrol and wheat. As a result, African countries face significant political and economic challenges. Already reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the war between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the economic fallout, exacerbated the political instability that many countries are experiencing.

South Africa has remained neutral in the war, much to the chagrin of the United States and the European Union. According to analysts, the flurry of diplomatic activity is due to the West and Russia both seeking South Africa’s support in the Ukraine conflict.

South Africa’s government has historically maintained close ties with Russia. During apartheid, the country housed political exiles and provided training and tactical weapons to uMkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the now-ruling African National Congress, during the liberation struggle.

South Africa’s International Relations Minister, Naledi Pandor, has stated that the International Criminal Court (ICC), of which South Africa is a signatory, has not been “even-handed” in its role as an arbiter in international affairs. Ms Pandor stated that, while she has not said the ICC was “wrong” in issuing the arrest warrant against Mr Putin, she has expressed deep reservations about the international court’s decision, arguing that the ICC ignores other global atrocities.

Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a South African opposition party, has stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “welcome to attend the BRICS summit.” According to party leader Julius Malema, Russia has always been a “friend of South Africa.”