With BRICS summit to be held in hybrid mode, questions remain over PM Modi's mode of participation

Sources don't rule out a virtual appearance by India's Prime Minister after Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier announced his participation virtually.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi may opt to attend the BRICS summit virtually. (Photo | PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi may opt to attend the BRICS summit virtually. (Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: The much anticipated BRICS Summit, which is scheduled to take place in Johannesburg (August 22nd to 24th) is now being held in hybrid mode, after Russian Federation President, Vladimir Putin, confirmed that he would be attending the Summit virtually.

However, Russia will be represented in person by its foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

Will this hybrid mode, lead to PM Modi considering attending it virtually too?

Could be a possibility now, say sources.

"Sometimes when an event is in hybrid mode, some participants opt for the virtual mode. Can’t say yet whether PM Modi will attend the Summit in person," say sources.

The BRICS Foreign Ministers meeting took place virtually on Thursday. It was attended by External Affairs Minister, Dr Jaishankar, and his counterparts from China, South Africa, Russia and Brazil.

"Nearly 40 countries have expressed interest in joining the BRICS group of nations,’’ said South African diplomat Anil Sooklal on Thursday.

Apart from the 22 countries that had formally asked to join, many countries including those from Global South are keen to become BRICS members. Argentina, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Cuba, Congo, Comoros, Gabon and Kazakhstan have expressed interest.

Meanwhile, going back to the BRICS Summit that is being held next month, a lot of speculation about President Putin’s attending it in person was laid to rest on Wednesday.

"President Putin will take part in the BRICS Summit via a video conference. His participation will be full-fledged. While Lavrov will attend in person," said Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday.

The upcoming Summit is the 15th BRICS Summit will be the first in-person Summit since the outbreak of the pandemic. This time is it under South Africa’s presidency and South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office has said in a readout that they had many rounds of consultations regarding the Summit.

"The Summit will be attended by leaders of India, China, Brazil and South Africa. By mutual agreement, President Putin will not attend the Summit in person. Russia will be represented by Lavrov," said Vincent Magwenya, a spokesman for President Cyril Ramaphosa, said in a statement.

Though India hasn’t officially given a statement on PM Modi’s in-person participation yet, sources point out that he will attend it in person. Chinese Premier Xi Jinping is likely to attend the Summit in person.

In due course, a comprehensive statement on the substantive issues to be covered at Summit and other related foreign policy matters will be issued.

There were debates in South Africa after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant against President Putin. This had put South Africa in a fix as they have historic and friendly ties with Kremlin and have been neutral on the conflict in Ukraine.

Earlier in 2015, South Africa didn’t arrest the then Sudanese President, Omar al Bashir who was and still is under ICC indictment for war crimes when he visited South Africa.

Putin’s decision to attend it virtually has put all rumours at rest and the South African president is confident that the summit will be a success.

BRICS, a bloc of emerging economic powers comprising Brazil, Russia, India and China was formed in 2019 as BRIC.

South Africa joined the following year after an invitation from China, expanding the group.

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