Russia’s Vladimir Putin invited to attend Brics summit in SA, Pandor confirms

23 March 2023 - 12:54
By Amanda Khoza

International relations minister Naledi Pandor has confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been invited to attend the 15th Brics summit in South Africa in August.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) earlier this month issued an arrest warrant for Putin, accusing him of the war crime of illegal deportation of children from Ukraine. Reuters reported the move obligates the court's 123-member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory.

“President Putin is one of the heads of Brics [the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa grouping] and is invited to the summit and I think the ICC warrant is a matter of concern,” Pandor said.

“South Africa is a member state of the International Criminal Court and so we will have to have a discussion in the context of cabinet to decide how we respond.”

The minister was speaking on the sidelines of a state visit by Belgium’s King Phillipe and Queen Mathilde to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday.

While Pandor has confirmed the invitation, it remains to be seen whether Putin will attend after the warrant was issued against him.

Pandor said the matter must be discussed as soon as possible as the summit is coming up and South Africa will need to clarify the situation.

This is not the first time the court has put pressure on South Africa to arrest a head of state. In 2015 South Africa did not comply with the ICC’s request to arrest former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir when he was in the country.

Asked whether the ICC's decision was fair, she said, “I have mentioned the issue of double standards of global affairs. There are many other countries that have been involved in wars, invasion of territory and killing people, arresting activists and none of them have been called up by the ICC.”

Seemingly, she said, “if you are powerful and enjoy a particular status in the global community, you escape and this does worry us because it dims the objective character of the ICC as an arbiter that is fair on all abuses of human rights and all infringements of humanitarian law.”

On the Belgian state visit, Pandor said she was looking forward to greater trade, increased people-to-people exchange and collaboration in the pharmaceutical sector in particular.

LISTEN | Malema says Putin is welcome, slams Mbalula and Nhlanhla Lux


Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.