“Putin will not go to Africa. Africa will come to Russia.”
That’s the title of an op-ed published Thursday by Russian state-owned newswire Ria Novosti.
A day after South Africa announced that Vladimir Putin would not attend in person a planned summit of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in Johannesburg next month, where the Russian president risked being arrested, the Kremlin’s propaganda machine has kicked into high gear.
Putin is facing an international arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia during Moscow’s invasion — which, as a signatory to the court, South Africa would have been bound to enforce if Putin visited the country.
Yet, Ria’s columnist Petr Akopov, who penned Thursday’s op-ed, claims that Putin’s dodging of the summit is merely a reflection of a “new world order [that] is shaping up.”
Acknowledging that Putin “will not fly to South Africa because of the warrant issued by the ICC,” Akopov says it will not affect Russia-South Africa relations, since South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to attend a summit of African leaders in St. Petersburg at the end of the month.
“The BRICS summit itself will still be another step towards building a new, post-Western world,” added Akopov, who is a notorious Kremlin propagandist and has been sanctioned by the European Union for “supporting … actions or policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”
In another column published by Ria Novosti two days after the start of Moscow’s full-scale invasion, Akopov hastily celebrated Russia’s victory over Ukraine — but the newswire withdrew the story a day later, after the Kremlin’s offensive was met with a fiercer-than-expected Ukrainian resistance.
Russian state-owned media is notorious for pushing stories that mirror the Kremlin’s agenda. The state-controlled Russia Today (RT) — which was initially launched as a subsidiary of Ria Novosti — was banned from broadcasting in the EU for spreading disinformation about the war in Ukraine.