The hypothetical arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin under the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant would be tantamount to a declaration of war against Russia, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in documents sent to the High Court of the South African province of Gauteng, according to TASS News Agency.
“It would be a reckless, unconstitutional and unlawful exercise of the powers conferred upon the government to declare war with Russia by arresting President Putin,” Ramaphosa, who issued a written testimony over the lawsuit, filed by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) political party, said, according to the News 24 website.
“It would be inconsistent with our Constitution to risk engaging in war with Russia. I have constitutional obligations to protect the national sovereignty, peace and security of the republic, and to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights of the people of the republic to life, safety and security, among other rights in the Bill of Rights,” Ramaphosa said.
Meanwhile, the president insisted that the court keep his position private in order to maintain confidentiality during South Africa’s interactions with the International Criminal Court.
However, the High Court ruled to publish Ramaphosa’s written response to the DA’s demand to implement the ICC arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin. Several hours after the publication, Ramaphosa said he had no objections to the publication of his written testimony.
On March 17, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin and Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova over charges of “illegal deportation” of Ukrainian children. Commenting on this ruling, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that Moscow does not recognize the ICC’s jurisdiction. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed that ICC rulings have no meaning for Russia and potential arrest warrants are legally void.
The South African president invited all leaders of the BRICS association (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to the upcoming summit in Johannesburg in August.