Putin discusses Black Sea grain deal, BRICs summit with S.Africa’s Ramaphosa

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in which they discussed the Black Sea grain deal, due to expire on Monday, and a summit in South Africa next month, the Kremlin said on Saturday.

Putin’s possible attendance at the BRICS summit is delicate for both countries because of an arrest warrant issued against him in March by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which accused him of the war crime of deporting Ukrainian children to Russia.

The warrant means member states of the ICC – of which South Africa is one – are obliged to arrest him if he sets foot on their territory. Russia said at the time that the warrant was “outrageous” and legally void because Russia is not an ICC member.

The Kremlin has yet to say publicly if Putin intends to attend the summit. In Saturday’s statement it said Ramaphosa had briefed Putin about preparations for the event, but did not give details of their exchange.

On the grain deal, which expires on Monday unless Russia agrees to extend it, Putin reiterated to Ramaphosa that commitments to remove obstacles to Russian food and fertilizer exports had not yet been fulfilled, the Kremlin said.

Russia has repeatedly said that for this reason it sees no grounds to renew the deal, originally struck a year ago to enable Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports despite the war with Russia.

Putin said in comments to reporters on Thursday that rather than renew the arrangement next week, Moscow might pull out and wait for its demands to be met before rejoining.

Russia has threatened to quit the deal before, however, only to renew it at the last minute.

The Kremlin said Putin and Ramaphosa would also hold bilateral talks on the fringes of a Russia-Africa summit in St Petersburg later this month.

It said the summit would continue discussion of an African peace initiative on the Ukraine war, a plan that Ramaphosa and others presented to Putin last month, but which has shown no sign of gaining traction.

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