Was Vladimir Putin’s absence from BRICS due to concerns of arrest for Ukraine war crimes?

Despite other world leaders gathering in Johannesburg, South Africa for the three-day BRICS summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin is conspicuously absent from the event. This summit marks the first occasion of an in-person meeting since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Vladimir Putin’s participation will be through a video call, as his travel plans to South Africa became complicated due to the issuance of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant against him in March. The warrant was prompted by allegations of his involvement in the abduction of children from Ukraine.While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa are present at the summit, the meeting will focus on significant matters such as deliberating a potential expansion of the bloc.

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This expansion is poised to take center stage on the agenda. Notably, more than 20 nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates, have expressed their interest in joining the BRICS bloc.Prior to admitting new members, the five existing BRICS countries will need to come to a consensus on the criteria for prospective entrants. The formation of the BRICS bloc occurred in 2009, initially comprising Brazil, Russia, India, and China, with the addition of South Africa in 2010.

Addressing the situation, Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for the Kremlin, emphasized that despite Putin’s virtual presence, he will be an active participant, delivering a speech during the proceedings. Russia will also be represented physically by its Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres is also anticipated to attend the summit.As the summit unfolds, Indian Prime Minister Modi commenced his two-nation visit with his arrival in Johannesburg, where he is set to remain from August 22 to 24. Upon his arrival at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, he was greeted with a ceremonial welcome.Additionally, China’s Xi Jinping has plans for a state visit in Pretoria, South Africa, where he will engage with President Cyril Ramaphosa before journeying to Gauteng to participate in the BRICS summit held in Johannesburg, as reported by the Associated Press.

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