Tuesday May 30, 2023 – South Africa has issued blanket diplomatic immunity to all leaders attending an August summit, meaning Vladimir Putin might be able to travel to Johannesburg for the BRICS summit, and not fear the country acting on an international criminal court warrant for his arrest.

BRICS is an economic and political organization involving Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

There have been speculations as to whether or not Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend this year’s summit in person due to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) warrant for his arrest.

On March 17, ICC issued arrest warrants for both Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official allegedly responsible for overseeing the forced deportations of tens of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russian territory.

South Africa, as one of the 123 countries party to the Rome Statute, is obliged to execute arrest warrants issued by the ICC.

A government notice signed by South African Foreign Minister Grace Naledi was uploaded to the South African government’s website on May 29, indicating that diplomatic immunity would be granted to the participants of the ministerial meeting to be held from June 1-2 in Cape Town and the official summit meeting featuring heads of state to be held from Aug. 22-24 in Johannesburg.

Then on Tuesday, May 30, South Africa’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement  claiming it will grant diplomatic immunity to attendees of the forthcoming BRICS summit, and that it was a “standard” procedure meant “for the conference and not for specific individuals.”

The statement released by the South African Foreign Ministry claimed that “these (intended diplomatic) immunities do not override any warrant that may have been issued by any international tribunal against any attendee of the conference.”

It is not clear yet if Putin would be willing to save South Africa from the diplomatic dilemma by not attending in person. The Kremlin said on Tuesday that Russia would take part at the “proper level”. The foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, is already slated to attend the planning meeting.

The Brics group of large emerging economies is increasingly seen as a rival to the G7 group of western industrialised countries

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