Latin America Supports Peaceful Stance, Refrains from Supplying Arms to Ukraine amidst Pro or Anti-Putin Rhetoric

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The largest country in Latin America is Brazil (over 200 million inhabitants), followed by Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela and others. In the aforementioned UN vote, most of them voted “for” the demand for Russia to end the war. However, they do not agree to sanctions against Russia or arms supplies to Ukraine, even though several Latin American countries have Soviet weapons that the Ukrainians could handle well.

“No one Colombia the purchased Russian weapon will not be used in the armed conflict in Ukraine. The constitution of our country forbids the promotion of armed conflicts… I prefer that the old Russian weapons remain as scrap on Colombian soil, rather than giving them to Ukraine,” Colombian President Gustavo Petro said in January of this year.

French President Emmanuel Macron called on Brazil to share arms, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz even visited Brazil, Argentina and Chile in person. However, it did not give the desired result.

Brazil cannot deliver, must not deliver. And that is the best position, because I think there should be a group of countries that choose to talk about the issue of peace. If Brazil gives or sells ammunition to Germany, which gives it to Ukraine, and then Ukraine shoots a Russian soldier with Brazilian ammunition, then we are at war. And we don’t want Brazil to go to war. We want Brazil to stand up for peace,” said Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in February this year.

It is also for peace Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who said in a speech on Mexico’s Independence Day last September: “Instead of continuing to fuel this painful and absurd war, the Mexican government proposes the immediate creation of a dialogue and peace committee.”

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Mexico also called for a five-year truce, and Colombia called for a similar one. Ukraine reacted very strongly to this, with Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeting: “”Peacekeepers” using war as a theme for their PR is nothing but surprise. @lopezobrador_ , is your plan to keep millions in occupation, increase number of mass burials and give Russia time to restore reserves before the next offensive?”

However, neither Mexico nor Brazil wants to give anything more than peace phrases. First, Russia and Ukraine are far away; second, taking a stand against Russia means taking a US position that may not be popular with the public.

The expert explains

Researcher of the Institute of Foreign Policy of Latvia Elizabete Vizgunova:
“If we’re talking about Brazil, of course, it’s also largely national politics. There were very tense elections last year, and that’s largely why the now former president of Brazil had offered to act as a mediator, but at the same time not to intervene, because non-intervention in this case plays in favor of a domestic political populist stance.”

In addition Brazil, Argentina supplies of Russian mineral fertilizers are very important, and their prices have grown significantly over the last year, because, for example, the European Union has forbidden Russia to export them through its ports.

The ambassador explains

Latvian non-resident ambassador to Brazil Alda Vanaga:
“All this at the moment, I can’t say that it has stopped, because, of course, relations continue and trade with Russia continues, but the difficulties are, of course, much greater. And it causes dissatisfaction purely with such economic interests. Therefore, Lula has to try to preserve some sort of, well, balance.”

So it is not beneficial for Latin American countries to worsen relations with Russia. It should also be noted that Brazil, together with Russia, is part of the BRICS union, which also includes China, South Africa and India. The leaders of the countries meet regularly and plan mutually beneficial trade.

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And the question of mineral fertilizers is an important thing. This was also emphasized by the Brazilian Felipe de Carvalho Albrechts: “We produce a lot of agricultural products, such as rice, wheat, and we need fertilizers. I have a friend, he is Latvian, and he has a farm. (..) When the price of mineral fertilizers increased by – I don’t know how many times – he couldn’t afford it. Then, when Bolsonaro had agreed on cheaper manure from Russia, I know that people were a little relieved… My wife and I talked that it was all stained with blood, but unfortunately that’s what happens.”

On the other hand, Russia has supplied its “Sputnik” vaccines to Argentina during the covid pandemic.

Another thing – Russian propaganda is widespread in Brazil.

The ambassador explains

Latvian non-resident ambassador to Brazil Alda Vanaga:
“Disinformation and fake news are also leaked here, for example, a video of Putin’s speeches. In his speech, he clearly tells in Russian how he is attacking there, how he is now implementing the goals of the special operation, and how it is necessary to expel the fascists from one and the other place in Ukraine. And at the bottom is a text in Portuguese as he says: we Russians have the same values ​​as you Brazilians.”

“I can’t speak for all Brazilians, but I am surprised by what I hear from some people, for example, one told me – yes, this war, but both sides are guilty,” said Felipe, a Brazilian.

So the Latin American powers are “for peace”.

True, several countries of this region are quite clearly on Russia’s side. For example, Cuba abstained from voting on the UN resolution, so did El Salvador, and so did Bolivia; as well as Nicaragua, which even voted “against” this resolution.

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The ambassador explains

Latvian non-resident ambassador to Brazil Alda Vanaga:
“First of all, the regime in Nicaragua, against which the United States has imposed sanctions. Secondly, the fact that Nicaragua has fairly close relations with Russia. Russian military forces are present on its territory, which supports various military exercises. We should also talk about the fact that, thanks to sanctions, Nicaragua needs to look for new export markets, and Russia, of course, helps such countries to bypass sanctions. There is also Venezuela, which has quite a lot in common with Russia.”

In South America, Russia has tried to strengthen its influence through individual countries. One of the friendliest since the days of President Hugo Chávez Venezuelawhere Nicolás Maduro is now in power, which the US calls a dictatorial regime and which it has slapped with sanctions.

Venezuela did not participate in the specific UN vote because it is said to be in debt. It should be noted, however, that the USA has reduced its categorization regarding Venezuela. Although the sanctions still exist, contrary to the position of Donald Trump, the leadership of the current US President Joe Biden has started a dialogue with Venezuela with the idea of ​​gradually returning Venezuelan oil to the world circulation instead of Russian oil. Maduro’s response to this is the release of several US prisoners.

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