Vladimir Putin has used a virtual platform to address BRICS, a coalition of emerging economies, in a move seen as a strategic manoeuvre to evade an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant that could lead to his arrest for alleged war crimes.
The Russian leader’s address, a pre-recorded 17-minute speech, coincided with the in-person meeting of the BRICS member nations—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—in South Africa on Tuesday. This marked the bloc’s first physical assembly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reports indicated that the Russian president would participate in a virtual welcome dinner hosted by South Africa, followed by a scheduled speech via video link on Wednesday.
At the core of the ICC’s interest is Mr Putin’s alleged involvement in kidnapping children from Ukraine.
Mr Putin used his speech to lambast the repercussions of international sanctions and indirectly censured Western nations by highlighting the erosion of established norms in free trade and economic affairs.
He underscored the adverse impacts of these measures, specifically their toll on the cereals industry, describing the situation as a “worsening of significant challenges.”
The war between Russia and Ukraine and Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain agreement has had a considerable impact on the global grains sector.
Turning to a different aspect, Mr Putin updated the attendees on Russia’s offer of supplying free grain to African nations, revealing that negotiations are reaching final stages, asserting Russia’s commitment to being a steadfast and dependable food source for Africa.
While Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov represented Moscow in person at the Johannesburg event, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov emphasized that Putin’s remote participation would be substantial.
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