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    Arresting Putin would be a declaration of war, according to the South African president.

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    Any effort to detain Vladimir Putin during his visit to South Africa would constitute a declaration of war against Russia, according to the country’s president.

    Cyril Ramaphosa issued the warning just weeks before an international gathering in Johannesburg to which the Russian president has been invited.

    However, if Mr Putin leaves Russian territory, he will be arrested by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    South Africa is a signatory to the ICC and should so assist in his arrest.

    However, it has already refused to follow that responsibility, giving safe passage to Sudan’s then-President Omar al-Bashir, who was wanted for war crimes against his own people.

    Mr. Putin has been invited to South Africa in August, when the country will hold a Brics summit – an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Some regard this club of fast-growing economies as a viable alternative to the G7 group of advanced economies.

    South Africa’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has gone to court to urge the authorities to arrest Mr Putin if he enters the country.

    According to court records, President Ramaphosa is vehemently opposed to such a move, citing national security concerns.

    “South Africa has obvious problems with executing a request to arrest and surrender President Putin,” he stated in an affidavit.

    “Russia has stated unequivocally that arresting its sitting president would constitute a declaration of war.” Risking conflict with Russia would be incompatible with our constitution.”

    President Ramaphosa went on to say that South Africa is one of several African countries holding discussions with Russia and Ukraine “with a view to ending the war entirely,” and that arresting Mr Putin would be counter-productive.

    Last month saw a peace mission to Europe, where African presidents sought to bring Ukraine and Russia to the table together, but failed.

    Much has been made of African countries’ unwillingness to support UN General Assembly resolutions denouncing Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.

    According to correspondents, the reasons vary depending on the country, such as South Africa’s anti-apartheid links to the Soviet Union or Mali’s current reliance on Russian Wagner mercenaries to fight terrorists.

    Russia has commercial relations with several African countries, including South Africa.

    Viktor Vekselberg, a sanctioned Russian oligarch, is claimed to be one of the largest donors to South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC).

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