Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the 10th National Congress of Judges, in Moscow
IBTimes US

While the national government of South Africa has not announced whether they will arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin or not, Premier of the Western Cape Alan Winde said that he will arrest the Russian President if he steps into his province.

South Africa is set to host the BRICS conference in August this year. However, neither Russia nor South Africa has confirmed the attendance of the Russian President yet at the conference. Ahead of the conference, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against him on March 18 due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

"Even in the face of this arrest warrant, the national government has the gall to invite President Putin to a BRICS summit in South Africa, scheduled for later this year," Winde said on Thursday, TimesLive reported. "This is unacceptable and deplorable."

The Premier of the Western Cape noted that Putin has "consistently and violently eroded the freedoms of the Ukrainian people and those in his own country who dare take a principled stand against his brutal actions."

He further said that if the Russian leader "sets foot in the Western Cape," then as a provincial government, he will arrest Putin by Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) officers. "If the SA Police Service is unable or unwilling to act, then we must," Winde said.

The Premier further explained that the Western Cape government (WCG) will not only fight for South Africans' fundamental rights and freedoms but will also "show solidarity with Ukraine by taking a stand against the brute force unleashed on its civilians by Russia."

Winde shared that he is concerned about how South Africa's national government has no clarity on what to do if Putin comes to the country to attend BRICS.

"I am very happy to make it quite clear in this province, that if Vladimir Putin comes into this province later in the year," Winde concluded. "I will do whatever is necessary, and we will follow through and make sure that he is arrested and he faces his day in court with the ICC."

BRICS is an acronym for leading emerging economies in the world, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. South Africa and Russia share a diplomatic relationship since 1942.

Russia has a consulate-general in Cape Town and an embassy in Pretoria while South Africa's embassy is in Moscow. Russia and South Africa trade rose by 16.4% last year compared to 2021 as it reached $1.3 billion, as per Russia Briefing.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has previously praised China for its "non-interference" policy in the Russia-Ukraine war and seems to follow the same. However, South Africa is being pressured to arrest Putin if he attends the conference in South Africa.

Earlier this month, the South African Zionist Federation slammed the government for not taking a stance against Russia for invading Ukraine. South African Zionist Federation advocates Israel and Zionism in South Africa.