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8 Aug, 2023 18:08

Putin talks BRICS summit with South Africa’s Ramaphosa

The Russian president phoned Pretoria to discuss preparations for the upcoming meeting
Putin talks BRICS summit with South Africa’s Ramaphosa

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa spoke by phone on Tuesday morning, discussing both bilateral relations and the upcoming BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

The two leaders discussed “a number of issues of practical cooperation,” including trade and economic and investment relations, the Kremlin said in a brief readout of the call. 

Putin and Ramaphosa followed up on their July 29 meeting and the preceding Russia-Africa summit, held in St. Petersburg. The South African leader “positively assessed the results” of the summit, according to the readout.

“Mutual inclination was expressed for further constructive interaction on the current international agenda, including preparations for the upcoming BRICS summit on August 23-24,” the Kremlin said.

Putin confirmed to Ramaphosa that he would not attend the summit in person because his presence was needed in Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will represent Moscow in person, while Putin will tune in via video link. 

The US and its allies have insisted that South Africa has a legal obligation to detain the Russian president as a signatory of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The ICC in March issued an “arrest warrant” for Putin, based on Ukrainian allegations that Russian evacuations of children from the conflict zone amounted to “unlawful population transfers.” Moscow has rejected the claims as without merit, informed the ICC that its writ in Russia is legally null and void, and issued arrest warrants for the judges and prosecutors involved.

After the South African opposition pressed the issue last month, Ramaphosa said that having Putin arrested would amount to a “declaration of war” by his government, and that he would not do so.

“It would be inconsistent with our Constitution to risk engaging in war with Russia,” he wrote in a court filing, made public on July 18.

The upcoming meeting of BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – is widely seen as a turning point for the trade bloc, as the organization has to decide whether to admit new members. According to South African foreign minister Naledi Pandor, 23 countries have submitted formal applications for membership.