/ 11 September 2023

Lula backtracks on Putin’s safety at next year’s G20

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Russian President Vladimir Putin during his joint press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on September 4, 2023, in Sochi, Russia. Photo by Contributor/Getty Images

Brazil’s leader on Monday withdrew his personal assurance that Russia President Vladimir Putin would not be arrested if he attends next year’s G20 summit in Rio de Janeiro, saying it would be up to the judiciary to decide.

Putin missed this year’s gathering in the Indian capital New Delhi, avoiding possible political opprobrium and any risk of criminal detention under an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant.

Brazil is an ICC member but President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva raised eyebrows at the weekend when he told Indian news network Firstpost: “If I’m the president of Brazil and if he comes to Brazil, there’s no way that he will be arrested.”

He changed tack on Monday, telling reporters: “I don’t know if Brazil’s justice will detain him. It’s the judiciary that decides, it’s not the government.”

Putin has skipped recent international gatherings and sent his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to New Delhi instead for the September 9-10 G20 meeting, even though India is not an ICC signatory.

In March, the ICC announced an arrest warrant for Putin over the war crime accusation of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children. 

The Kremlin denies the accusations, insisting the warrant against Putin is “void”. 

On Saturday, the G20 nations adopted a declaration that avoided condemning Moscow for the war in Ukraine but called on all states to refrain from using force to grab territory.

The next summit is slated for November 2024 in Rio de Janeiro and Lula said he hoped “that by then the war is over”.

But he also questioned Brazil’s membership of the war crimes court, adding that “emerging countries often sign things that are detrimental to them”.

“I want to know why we are members but not the United States, not Russia, not India, not China,” Lula said.

“I’m not saying I’m going to leave the court, I just want to know why Brazil is a signatory.”

© Agence France-Presse