(Featured image provided by REUTERS/UESLEI MARCELINO)
On Tuesday, April 18th, Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva, condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, calling it a “violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.” However, while Lula does express support for an eventual peaceful resolution to the war, other comments he’s made about the war have gotten some controversy.
The reason for this comes after Lula recently visited China over the weekend to discuss the conflict with Xi Jinping. After he returned, Lula accused the United States (U.S.) and Western European nations of prolonging the war by providing arms to Ukraine. “The United States needs to stop encouraging war and start talking about peace,” stated Lula on Saturday.
Lula has promoted himself and Brazil as a broker for peace talks, based on the country’s long tradition of non-intervention and open diplomacy. He also stated that it should be neutral countries not involved in the war that should encourage Russia and Ukraine to begin peace talks. Lula had proposed an earlier peace plan back in February of 2022, in which Ukraine would give up its claim of the Crimean peninsula. However, it was met with much backlash, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused any such settlement.
Lula also suggested that Ukraine shares as much blame for the war as Russia does.
Around the same time that Lula was in China, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Brazil to meet with Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira, and he expressed support for Lula’s commitment to peace. “We are grateful for their desire to contribute to finding ways to settle this situation,” said Lavrov.
However, Lula’s comments received much criticism from many Western countries over his accusations of them only making the war worse by supplying arms. As of now, only French President Emmanuel Macron has supported Lula’s peace initiative. Many reject the initiative as if a ceasefire were to start now, then Russia would still control all of the territory it seized by force from Ukraine. “It raises alarms bells,” said a European ambassador in Brasilia. A White House spokesperson expressed similar sentiments, accusing Lula of “parroting Russian and Chinese propaganda without looking at the facts.” Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s foreign ministry, also invited Lula via Facebook to come to Ukraine himself so he can “understand the real causes and essence of Russian aggression and its consequences for global security.”
On Monday, after the criticism of Lula’s comments, his foreign policy advisor, Celso Amorim, talked to news outlets stating that the president had never meant to offend anyone. “Brazil defends the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” said Amorim. However, Amorim also stated that Brazil will continue to call for a negotiated peace. “As long as there are no talks, the ideal peace for the Ukrainians and the Russians will not happen.”