Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva accepts the credentials of the Chinese ambassador.
“From the point of view of Brazilian diplomacy, it would be precisely the lack of alignment with either side that would make Brazil an accredited actor to participate in sewing a way out of the impasse.”
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva entered office with a flurry of diplomatic activity and initiatives. Most prominently, Lula has pushed for the idea of a “Peace Club” to mediate an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine. This was a principal topic of discussion on Lula’s first state visit to China, according to Voz de America, the American public-private media partnership with excellent media coverage of Latin America.[i] The outlet reports that Lula discussed his plan at length with Chinese President Xi Jinping, even mentioning it in a public appearance, but he was unable to secure Chinese participation. Nevertheless, Lula has positioned Brazil, according to this reporting, to be a neutral arbiter in the current conflict, at least rhetorically. The reality may be much different, however, according to BBC Brasil, the Brazilian version of the popular British media outlet. Lula’s comments indicate that he considers both Russia and Ukraine at fault for the war, and the West responsible for “encouraging” greater fighting. While Lula has tried to pursue non-alignment in Brazil’s foreign policy, serving as a prominent spokesperson for Global South countries on the war in Ukraine,[ii] these comments and his recent trip to China have called into question Brazil’s neutrality as a potential arbiter in the war.
“Lula pide un ‘grupo de paz’ para negociar un acuerdo entre Ucrania y Rusia (Lula calls for a ‘peace group’ to negotiate an agreement between Ukraine and Russia),” Voz de America (the American public-private media partnership with regional coverage of Latin America), 16 April 2023. https://www.vozdeamerica.com/a/lula-pide-un-grupo-de-paz-para-negociar-un-acuerdo-entre-ucrania-y-rusia/7052859.html
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Sunday proposed the creation of a group of countries not involved in the war between Russia and Ukraine to mediate for peace, saying he had discussed the matter with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. Lula had previously said that the group should bring together countries that would not ‘encourage’ the war, adding that nations that supply weapons had to be convinced to stop doing so. Lula repeated that the decision to start the war was ‘taken by two countries,’ seeming to blame Ukraine as well, adding that ending the war will be more difficult as more nations will have to be persuaded.
“Brasil tem chances reais de mediar negociações de paz na Ucrânia? (Does Brazil have a real chance of mediating peace talks in Ukraine?),” BBC Brasil (the Brazilian version of the popular British media outlet), 15 April 2023. https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/articles/cyxvz4y9gwpo Lula’s position has been seen as ambivalent internationally. Although Brazil formally condemns the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territories in multilateral organizations such as the United Nations (UN)…Lula has already said that the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was as responsible for the crisis as the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin. Recently, Lula suggested that Ukraine would have to give up the territory of Crimea in order to end the conflict, which was rejected by the Ukrainians and displeased western powers. From the point of view of Brazilian diplomacy, it would be precisely the lack of alignment with either side that would make Brazil an accredited actor to participate in sewing a way out of the impasse.
[i] For more coverage of the Lula-Xi state visit, see: Oliver Stuenkel, “Courting Lula, China Seeks to Show It Has More to Offer than the U.S.,” Americas Quarterly, 12 April 2023. https://www.americasquarterly.org/article/courting-lula-china-seeks-to-show-it-has-more-to-offer-than-the-u-s/
[ii] For more information on how Latin America has pursued a strategy of non-alignment on Russia’s war in Ukraine and other issues, see: Ryan C. Berg et al., “A Hesitant Hemisphere: How Latin America Has Been Shaped by the War in Ukraine,” Center for Strategic & International Studies, 27 February 2023. https://www.csis.org/analysis/hesitant-hemisphere-how-latin-america-has-been-shaped-war-ukraine
Image: Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva accepts the credentials of the Chinese ambassador.
Attribution: Flickr, CC-BY 2.0