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Amidst a war crimes warrant, Putin participates in the BRICS summit in South Africa through remote means.

Amidst a war crimes warrant, Putin participates in the BRICS summit in South Africa through remote means.Amidst a war crimes warrant, Putin participates in the BRICS summit in South Africa through remote means.

Amidst a war crimes warrant, Putin participates in the BRICS summit in South Africa through remote means.

Publish – 23 aug , 2023

Leaders from the BRICS group of emerging economies commenced a three-day summit in South Africa on Tuesday, with notable absences from Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Putin’s presence at the Johannesburg gathering was complicated by an outstanding warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for his alleged involvement in the abduction of children from Ukraine. Instead of a physical appearance, his contribution to the bloc, consisting of member nations Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, took the form of a prerecorded 17-minute speech – marking the bloc’s first in-person meeting since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Xi, who was present in South Africa and engaged in bilateral talks with President Cyril Ramaphosa in the morning, opted not to join the business forum at the primary summit venue alongside the leaders of Brazil and India. The rationale behind his absence remains undisclosed, but Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao read out Xi’s speech on his behalf.

The focal point of the summit, slated for Wednesday in Johannesburg’s financial district of Sandton, is expected to be the main session. During this session, Xi, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Ramaphosa are set to convene as BRICS considers potential expansion.

The current collective, constituting 40 percent of the global population and contributing over 30 percent of the world’s economic output, sees more than 20 nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates, seeking membership, as per South African officials.

Notably, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi were slated to participate in the summit.

For any new countries to join, the existing five member nations must agree upon the entry criteria. The prospect of an expanded BRICS is particularly aligned with the preferences of China and Russia, given their strained relations with Western countries.

The bloc, originally formed in 2009 by Brazil, Russia, India, and China, welcomed South Africa as its fifth member in 2010.

As Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov represented the nation in Johannesburg, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov emphasized that Putin would actively engage in the summit through remote means.

Local authorities stated that Putin would take part in a Tuesday welcome dinner hosted by South Africa in a virtual capacity. The summit’s agenda also indicates his involvement in delivering a speech via video link on Wednesday.

Overall, more than 1,200 delegates from the five BRICS nations and numerous other developing countries have converged in South Africa’s largest city. With over 40 heads of state expected to partake in various summit sessions, President Ramaphosa confirmed United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ attendance as well.

(Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Amidst a war crimes warrant, Putin participates in the BRICS summit in South Africa through remote means.

On the opening day of Tuesday’s summit, the call for greater economic collaboration and partnership in key areas such as healthcare, education, and climate change resonated strongly. This sentiment reflects a growing viewpoint in certain regions that institutions traditionally led by Western powers, including the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), do not adequately cater to the needs of developing nations.

During his meeting with Xi Jinping in Pretoria, the capital of South Africa, President Ramaphosa expressed his pursuit of Chinese support for both South Africa and Africa’s appeal for a reform of global governance establishments. Notably, he emphasized the need for reform within the United Nations Security Council.

It’s noteworthy that despite Africa and South America being home to nearly 2 billion people, neither region has permanent representation on the Security Council.

Xi Jinping, who has gradually resumed international travel following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in China, accompanied Ramaphosa in observing a ceremonial parade by soldiers at the Union Buildings, which serve as the official government seat in South Africa. During the event, Xi made brief comments expressing China’s readiness to deepen collaboration with Africa’s most advanced economy, aiming to elevate their comprehensive strategic partnerships to new heights.

Officials from BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have refuted suggestions that the bloc is taking an anti-Western trajectory under the influence of China and Russia. They emphasize that the bloc is primarily safeguarding the interests of the Global South.

Nonetheless, the stance of BRICS contrasts with that of the United States and its Western allies on various issues, particularly concerning Russia’s incursion into Ukraine. The European Union urged Xi Jinping, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Narendra Modi, and Cyril Ramaphosa to use the summit as an opportunity to denounce Russia and Vladimir Putin for the conflict in Ukraine. However, such a move appears unlikely.

If anything, the BRICS forum has provided Russia a platform to voice its anti-Western rhetoric. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov used a BRICS meeting of foreign ministers in June to criticize Western powers for their “hegemony” and alleged use of “financial coercion” to further their own interests.

A small demonstration protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine took place on Tuesday at a public park situated over 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) away from the summit venue.The activities in Johannesburg will be under careful observation by the United States and the European Union. The extensive queue of nations expressing interest in joining BRICS indicates that the bloc’s advocacy for a restructuring of the global governance framework might be resonating strongly with numerous countries.

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