Brazil’s radical leftist President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva stated on Monday that, if needed, he would be willing to mediate talks between Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
“If I can help, I will help. But if the need arises to hold talks with Putin and Zelensky, I will be ready to discuss peace settlement efforts, no problem.” Lula said. “What we really need is to bring together a group of people powerful enough to be respected at the negotiating table. And we should engage with both of them.”
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he would be ready to mediate talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky, if needed:https://t.co/eFaIC6EJRE pic.twitter.com/M9xX1nIQxm
— TASS (@tassagency_en) January 31, 2023
Lula made the offer after refusing European requests to help arm Ukraine against the nearly year-long “special operation” Russia launched against Zelensky’s government in February last year. Lula was a close ally of Putin’s during his first two terms as president of Brazil, from 2003 to 2011, and dismissed Zelensky as a “nice comedian” during his campaign to return to power last year.
Lula’s predecessor, the conservative Jair Bolsonaro, insisted on maintaining Brazil’s neutrality in the Ukraine invasion and visited Moscow as the eight-year-old war escalated last year.
The Brazilian president gave his remarks during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who embarked on a three-day tour to Argentina, Chile, and Brazil on Saturday in a bid to forge stronger economic ties and to to rally support for Ukraine.
The Brazilian president asserted to media representatives present at the joint conference that Russia had made a “mistake” in invading Ukraine.
“I think Russia made the classic mistake of invading another country’s territory, so Russia is wrong,” Lula said. “But I still think that when one won’t [fight], two won’t fight. You have to want peace.”
Lula refused Germany’s request to provide ammunition to Ukraine for the German-made Gepard anti-aircraft guns.
“Brazil has no interest in passing the ammunition, so that it can be used in the war between Russia and Ukraine,” the Brazilian president added. “Brazil is a country of peace. Therefore, Brazil does not want to have any participation, even if indirect,” he said, while availing himself of the opportunity to claim that China has an important role to play in prospective peace talks between Ukraine and Russia, a matter that he will discuss in March during his official visit to Beijing.
The refusal of Germany’s request follows a one-hour telephone conversation held between the Brazilian president and his french counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Thursday. According to Brazilian news website UOL, Lula expressed to Macron that Brazil would not take part in any war-related operations against Russia but is willing to actively engage in the search for peace through the establishment of negotiations with Russia toward a ceasefire.
UOL also claimed that, in the conversation, Lula recognized the illegality of Russia’s violation of Ukrainian territory while claiming that NATO’s behavior in recent years had not contributed to guaranteeing a relationship of trust with the Kremlin. Ukraine has long sought membership in NATO but has never been a member and does not appear on track to be so in the near future given the ongoing conflict.
During his 2022 presidential campaign, Lula stated that Volodymyr Zelensky was just as responsible as Vladimir Putin for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I see the president of Ukraine, speaking on television, being applauded, getting a standing ovation by all the European parliamentarians,” Lula said in an interview published by Time magazine in May 2022. “This guy [Zelensky] is as responsible as Putin for the war. Because in the war, there’s not just one person guilty.”
Lula reiterated that his country will not send any ammunition to Ukraine through his Twitter account on Monday evening, stating that Brazil is a “country of peace.”
O Brasil não tem interesse em passar munições para que sejam utilizadas na guerra entre Ucrânia e Rússia. O Brasil é um país de paz. Nesse momento, precisamos encontrar quem quer a paz, palavra que até agora foi muito pouco utilizada.
— Lula (@LulaOficial) January 30, 2023
“Brazil has no interest in passing on ammunition to be used in the war between Ukraine and Russia. Brazil is a country of peace,” the post read. “At this moment, we need to find those who want peace, a word that until now has been used very little.”
During the German chancellor’s visit to Argentina, the nation’s far-left President Alberto Fernández stated on Saturday that “Argentina and Latin America are not considering sending weapons to Ukraine or any other place of conflict,” but added that he expected “the end of hostilities as soon as possible.”
“Russia must understand the damage it is causing in the Southern Hemisphere,” Fernández said.
Unlike his Argentine counterpart, Lula da Silva abstained from directly condemning Russia or Putin for the invasion of Ukraine during the German chancellor’s visit. A joint statement released by the governments of Brazil and Germany stated that they “emphatically deplored Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and annexation of parts of its territory as flagrant violations of international law.”
Lula and Putin held a conversation in December in which, according to the Brazilian president, Putin wished him “a good government and the strengthening of the relationship” between Brazil and Russia.
Conversei hoje com o presidente russo Vladimir Putin, que me cumprimentou pela vitória eleitoral, desejou um bom governo e o fortalecimento da relação entre nossos países. O Brasil voltou, buscando o diálogo com todos e empenhado na busca de um mundo sem fome e com paz.
— Lula (@LulaOficial) December 20, 2022
“Today I spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who congratulated me on the electoral victory, wished a good government and the strengthening of the relationship between our countries,” Lula’s wrote. “Brazil has returned, seeking dialogue with everyone and committed to the search for a world without hunger and with peace.”
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.
Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.