South African President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed Sunday that his country will organize in August the next BRICS summit, to which Russian President Vladimir Putin was invited, despite the arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court.

“We’re progressing in organizing the BRICS summit and we are holding final discussions about the format,” Ramaphosa told reporters, explaining that this meeting, which initially includes South Africa, Brazil, China, India and Russia, will be in attendance.

He didn’t refer to Putin’s presence or absence, knowing that the latter has been targeted since March by an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court on charges of committing a war crime by deporting Ukrainian children since the Russian army invaded Ukraine, which Moscow denies.

“We’ll organize the BRICS summit in person… We all complied this matter… We haven’t held a physical summit for nearly three years… It won’t be virtual,” Ramaphosa said, in response to a question on the sidelines of a conference of his ruling party.

As a member of the International Criminal Court, South Africa is theoretically obligated to arrest the Russian president if he enters its territory.

This poses a serious diplomatic dilemma for Pretoria, which has refused to condemn Moscow since the start of its attack on Ukraine.

Rumors circulated in local media that Pretoria intended to move the summit to China to avoid arrest by Putin.

South Africa asserts that it has adopted a neutral position in order to be able to play a role in resolving conflicts, as Ramaphosa previously said, stressing that he has repeatedly consulted with Putin.

In addition, in February, his country hosted naval exercises with Russia and China off its coast, which raised “concern” of the major Western powers.

Relations between South Africa and Russia date back to the time of the apartheid regime, as the Kremlin supported the ruling party in its confrontation with this system.

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