The Kremlin reported a phone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday, as stated in a report by Reuters. The focal point of the discourse pertained to the Black Sea grain agreement, which is slated to terminate on the forthcoming Monday, alongside an imminent summit in South Africa, planned for the following month.
The potential involvement of President Putin in the BRICS summit presents a delicate scenario for both countries, given the existence of an unresolved arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has levied charges against President Vladimir Putin, alleging his involvement in the war crime of coercively relocating Ukrainian children to Russia.
The warrant stipulates that member states of the International Criminal Court (ICC), such as South Africa, must apprehend the individual upon arrival within their jurisdiction. Russia argued that the warrant was considered “outrageous” and legally invalid because of its non-membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The official statement from the Kremlin regarding President Putin’s attendance at the summit is still pending. The official report released on Saturday mentioned that President Ramaphosa had provided a briefing to President Putin regarding the preparations for the event. However, no specific details regarding their exchange were disclosed.
According to the Kremlin, during the discussion between Putin and Ramaphosa regarding the grain deal, it was emphasized to Putin that the commitments made to eliminate barriers to Russian food and fertilizer exports have not been fulfilled yet. The grain deal is set to expire on Monday unless Russia agrees to extend it.
The Russian government has consistently stated that it does not find any justifications for extending the agreement. The agreement was established one year ago to facilitate Ukraine’s grain exports from its Black Sea ports, despite the ongoing conflict with Russia.
During a press interaction on Thursday, President Putin expressed that instead of extending the agreement next week, Moscow could potentially withdraw and choose to rejoin only after its demands have been fulfilled.
Russia has previously expressed its intention to withdraw from the agreement but opted to extend its participation just before the expiration.
The Kremlin has announced that bilateral talks between President Putin and President Ramaphosa will take place on the sidelines of the upcoming Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg, scheduled for later this month.
The summit will focus on the ongoing discussion of an African peace initiative concerning the Ukraine war. This initiative was previously presented to Putin by Ramaphosa and other individuals last month. However, no progress or support for this plan has been indicated.