Putin foregoes trip to Brics Summit

The meeting of the Brics emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa in August in Johannesburg will take place in the absence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will participate by video instead, the Kremlin has announced. The arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which South Africa would have been obliged to execute, is suspected to be the reason for the cancellation. Commentators disagree about the ramifications of Putin’s absence.

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Russia now sitting at a side table

Putin’s absence has significant implications for the meeting, Radio Kommersant explains:

“Video broadcasts are a good thing, however the most important decisions and agreements at such events are reached behind the scenes, not in the official sessions with minutes and an agenda. In such a truncated format it becomes difficult for Russia to claim a leadership role in this organisation — which was famously created as an alternative to the Western world — and also if it wants to claim the role of mediator between India and China, for example, whose bilateral relations are anything but smooth.”

Dmitrij Drise
Die Welt (DE) /

The annoyance will be short-lived

The work of the South African judiciary will not prevent South African head of state Cyril Ramaphosa from visiting Putin in St. Petersburg in the near future, Die Welt notes:

“The courts dealt with a clarification of the legal situation in advance; there was little doubt recently that they would order an arrest. And Ramaphosa did not want to risk a blatant breach of constitutional principles by openly defying them, for instance. But a major Russia-Africa summit is to take place in St. Petersburg at the end of July. There will be many a photo opportunity for Putin to document the mutual friendship with African presidents. ... Ramaphosa is also among those expected to attend.”

Christian Putsch
Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

A sign of growing isolation

Putin has gradually manoeuvred himself into a corner, writes Dagens Nyheter:

“The cancelled trip shows that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Putin to pretend that it’s all ‘business as usual’ and that Russia has the backing of the ‘Global South’. To what extent the arrest warrant and Putin’s increasing isolation will influence the general climate of talks on the war in Ukraine remains to be seen. This probably makes it harder for ‘peace seekers’ to argue that Ukraine must give up territory so that the country’s citizens are not bombed, raped and tortured.”

Michael Winiarski