We may never know. But a number of questions have been hanging over this 10th BRICS Summit In Johannesburg.
The most important one is: what on earth were the Russians up to?
This was billed as a three-day event, but it was only at 10 am on the second day - Thursday - that Russian leader Vladimir Putin landed on African soil.
The first day of the Summit had been devoted to a BRICS business forum, at which only 40 percent of the BRICS Heads of State - from SA and China - made an appearance.
Maybe this was the plan all along. One can’t say, because the programmes for the Brics bean-feast were released at the last minute.
This could be due to incompetence, indecision and laziness on the part of the SA hosts.
Or it could be due to one or more guests, probably the one called Vlad, being difficult.
Why would Russia want to rain on Cyril’s parade?
It probably wasn’t because of the prominent role China has been playing in SA, sneakily bolting a visit to Africa and to SA on to the beginning of the BRICS events.
Had Vlad also wanted a State Visit, there is little doubt he would have got one.
My own suspicion, which should be taken with a pillar of salt, is that Russia is fuming over the change of leadership in SA, which has robbed them of a Zuma-driven nuclear arms deal - would have opened up lucrative opportunities for all.
With Zuma exiled to Nkadla, and Cyril ensconced in the Union Buildings, the Russian bear has been de-clawed when it comes to sleazy nukey deals in SA.
As if to undermine this, Reuters reported that the ANC's Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile said at a breakfast on Thursday that Pretoria would not take the "Big-Bang approach" to nuclear expansion.
Casting aside any worries about an influential politician using “big bang” in the same sentence as “nuclear” the message to Moscow is clear: no big nuke deal with SA.
There could be some micro nuke deal. But it would be more on the scale of a teddy bear, not a Russian bear.
So Putin was able to thumb his nose at Cyril, missed the first day of the Summit (which had been hastily switched to Day minus one) and also the dinner that first evening.
Maybe there was no open bar, with Vodka a-plenty; maybe his tolerance for traditional African music and dance is limited. I doubt this.
I suspect, though I may never be able to prove it, that Putin’s arrival in SA was delayed because he was in one almighty huff.
One also hears that he was a bit miffed at the last SA-hosted BRICS Summit in Durban, where he had to play second fiddle to the Chinese.
You will see the pictures of the happy BRICS family and can read the sanitised Johannesburg Declaration from the Summit. They may not tell the full story.…
My suspicion is that the sooner that Vlad the Impetuous managed to climb back on Aeroflot One, clutching his bottle of duty-free Smirnoff, the happier that will have made him.
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