By Musa Kamara

The BRICS Summit is currently underway in South Africa, and the notably biggest absentee is Russia’s President, Vladmir Putin. Putin’s absent comes amidst speculations that, he could be arrested and detained under an International Criminal Court Warrant for his war crimes in Ukraine. 

South Africa is an ICC signatory and would be expected to aid in his arrest if the Russian leader had attended the summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In March, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin for overseeing the abduction of Ukrainian children in its invasion of Ukraine. Both Putin and Russia’s children’s rights commissioner Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova bore responsibility for the “unlawful deportation” of thousands of Ukrainian children, the court, based in the Hague, said. It is rare for an indictment of a sitting head of state.

Russia has denounced the ICC decision and said it does not apply to Russia because Moscow is not a signatory to the treaty. But Putin has not travelled abroad, save for the occupied territories of Ukraine, since the ICC warrant was announced, and has also now absent from the all-important BRICS Summit.

Putin attended the opening session of the BRICS summit by video conference. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, led a delegation to South Africa.

The summit is set to take place on 24-26 August. It will bring together representatives from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Notably, China’s President, Xi Jingpin is in attendance as well as, Brazil’s President, Lula Da Silva and India’s Prime Minister Narendar Mordi. 

Many pundits are now asking if President Putin is a coward, as he has once discredited the issuance of the arrests warrant from the ICC calling it a bluff and that it is not binding on Russia as it is not a signatory to the ICC, but why is Putin afraid of leaving his comfort zone and attend international summit if he thinks the ICC will not arrest him?

The Kremlin said arresting its President will be a declaration of war on Russia. Putin is regarded as one that is proud of flexing his military prowess, the reason he woke up one morning and decided to wage a full-scale invasion on Ukraine, his action leading to global economic crisis. But he is now proving to be afraid of the ICC, as he has not left his country since his arrest warrant was issued.

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