This article originally appeared in Peoples Dispatch.
South Africa confirmed on Thursday, June 29, that the upcoming BRICS summit will be held as proposed on August 22-24 in Johannesburg, putting to rest the uncertainty which arose after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
South Africa, being a signatory to the Rome Statute of the ICC, is duty bound to execute the arrest warrant against Putin if he lands in the country.
The ICC had issued an arrest warrant against Putin in March over allegations of illegal deportation of children from Ukraine, as well as other war crimes committed there. Putin has denied these allegations.
Reuters quoted South Africa’s Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor as saying that Putin has not yet confirmed whether he will attend the summit in person, and he may join in virtual mode.
South Africa has been pressured by the United States and other Western countries to abandon its stance of neutrality with respect to the war in Ukraine and abide by the sanctions imposed by them on Russia. The United States had also accused South Africa of supplying weapons to Russia.
South Africa has denied the U.S. allegations and refused to take sides in the war, maintaining that economic and political relations with both the West and Russia are significant for the African nation.
In June, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa led an African delegation to both Ukraine and Russia to push for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.
South Africa joined BRICS in 2011 as its fifth member. The grouping also includes Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The upcoming gathering would be the 15th summit of BRICS countries, which have vowed to create a more equitable and multipolar world system and counter Western economic and political hegemony.
More than a dozen countries have applied for BRICS membership recently, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina, indicating the growing popularity of the grouping as an alternative to West-dominated international forums.