outh Africa breathed a sigh of relief as Russian President Vladimir Putin opted out of attending a diplomatic meeting in Johannesburg, sparing the country from the predicament of whether to arrest him. Putin has been accused of war crimes by an international court.
During the BRICS summit in August, South Africa appeared to face a choice between straining relations with Russia or damaging ties with the United States and other Western nations, crucial trading partners who have expressed frustration over South Africa’s close association with Moscow.
President Cyril Ramaphosa disclosed that, through “mutual agreement,” Putin had decided not to personally attend the summit and instead appointed his foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, as his representative. Russian state media announced that Putin would participate in the summit via videoconference.
Although this decision alleviates South Africa’s immediate dilemma, the country remains in a precarious and widely observed position as it navigates the challenge of maintaining strong alliances with its superpower partners, even when they find themselves at odds with each other.
(The New York Times)