President Putin will not attend the BRICS summit in South Africa and Russia will instead be represented by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The announcement from South Africa’s presidency ends months of speculation and has been a thorny issue for the country in light of the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant issued for the Russian president.

Pretoria – an ICC member – would be expected to implement the warrant were he to set foot in the country.

"By mutual agreement, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation will not attend the summit, but the Russian Federation will be represented by Foreign Minister Mr (Sergei) Lavrov," Vincent Magwenya, a spokesman for President Cyril Ramaphosa, said in a statement.

The decision follows "a number of consultations" held by Ramaphosa in recent months, the most recent of which took place "last night," Magwenya said.

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South Africa is the current chair of the BRICS group, a gathering of heavyweights that also includes Brazil, Russia, India and China, which sees itself as a counterweight to Western economic domination.

Putin was formally invited to BRICS summit due to take place in Johannesburg between August 22 and 24, but Pretoria has been under heavy domestic and international pressure not to host him.

Arresting Putin would amount to a “declaration of war” on Russia, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa wrote in court papers released on Tuesday as the country wrangled over hosting the Russian leader.

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South Africa's diplomatic dilemma is playing out in court, where the leading opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), is trying to force the government's hand and ensure the Kremlin leader is held and handed over to the ICC if he steps foot in the country.

But in a responding affidavit, Ramaphosa described the DA's application as "irresponsible" and said national security was at stake.

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Comments (2)

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Joseph Swanson
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It is sad that the global South Nations, especially Africa forget how the russians also hurted their ancestors.In 1889 russia laid claims to the village of Sagallo in present-day Djibouti.
By the beginning of the 20th Century around 25, 000 russian settlers had established themselves in South Africa. Yes, settlers  who stole black land AND displaced black South Africans! The russians were amongst the strongest supporters of the Boer Republics in the Boer War. The largest international solidarity groups raising money, material aid, medical support detachments and fighters for the Boer army were in russia and Holland and these included the royal families. The russians were totally infatuated with the Boers and admired their way of life. russian immigrants joined special detachments of russian fighters to aid the Boer War effort.

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Sean
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A big victory for international law.

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