Putin missed the G20 summit in India, avoiding any risk of criminal detention under an ICC warrant for alleged war crimes.

Brazil’s leader has withdrawn his personal assurance that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not be arrested if he attends next year’s Group of 20 summit in Rio de Janeiro, saying it would be up to the judiciary to decide.

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also questioned Brazil’s membership in the United Nations war crimes court, saying on Monday “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.”

Putin missed this year’s G20 gathering in the Indian capital, New Delhi, avoiding possible political opprobrium and any risk of criminal detention under an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant.

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”.

Russia issued an arrest warrant for Karim Khan, the prosecutor at The Hague-based war crimes court, in May and he was added to the “wanted list” of its Ministry of Internal Affairs.

‘The judiciary decides’

Brazil is a signatory to the Rome Statute, which led to the founding of the ICC. Lula raised eyebrows at the weekend when he told Indian news network Firstpost: “If I’m the president of Brazil and if he [Putin] comes to Brazil, there’s no way that he will be arrested.”

He changed tack on Monday at a press conference in Brazil 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 Sergey Lavrov to New Delhi instead for the September 9-10 G20 meeting, even though India is not an ICC signatory.

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 “by then the war is over”.

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