19 Jul 2023 14:22

Russian President Putin will not attend BRICS summit - S. African president's office

LONDON. July 19 (Interfax) - Russian President Vladimir Putin will not visit Johannesburg to attend the BRICS summit, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will attend the event instead, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's office said on Wednesday.

"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," Ramaphosa's office said in a statement.

The BRICS summit will take place on August 22-24.

The leaders of South Africa, Brazil, India and China will take part in the summit. This will be the first in-person BRICS summit since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

"President Ramaphosa is confident that the summit will be a success and calls on the nation to extend the necessary hospitality to the many delegates who will arrive from various parts of the continent and the globe," the document said.

Previously, a number of media outlets, citing South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's testimony in court, reported that he had allegedly compared Putin's hypothetical arrest at the BRICS summit at the request of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to a declaration of war on Russia.

"It would be a reckless, unconstitutional and unlawful exercise of the powers conferred upon the government to declare war with Russia by arresting President Putin," the local News24 website quoted Ramaphosa as saying in his testimony.

"It would be inconsistent with our Constitution to risk engaging in war with Russia," the South African president was quoted by the media as saying.

Asked by journalists on Wednesday to comment on reports that Moscow let Pretoria know that Putin's possible arrest would amount to a declaration of war, Peskov replied, "Nobody informed anyone about anything. In this world, it's absolutely clear to everyone what an attempt to encroach on the Russian leader means."

"Therefore, there's no need to explain anything to anyone here," Peskov said.