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LATIN AMERICA | 19-07-2023 13:44

Lula sees global fatigue over Ukraine as he pushes for peace

Brazil's Lula calls for peace as world grows weary of Ukraine conflict.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the world is tiring of Russia’s war in Ukraine as he insisted on his peace efforts after a summit with European leaders highlighted tensions over the conflict.

Lula, who has pushed to broker a deal between Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskiy, also criticised Chile’s Gabriel Boric for his stance against Moscow.

“The world is starting to get tired. Countries are starting to get tired,” Lula told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday. “So the moment will come when there will be peace. And then there will have to be a group of countries that are able to talk to Russia and to talk to Ukraine.”

At a two-day summit of European Union, Latin American and Caribbean leaders earlier this week, the EU failed to ensure the meeting’s conclusions mentioned Russia explicitly over its invasion, or condemned Moscow. Nicaragua refused to sign. Lula has avoided singling out Moscow as the main culprit for the conflict, saying Zelenskiy and Joe Biden were also to blame for failing to negotiate more with Putin.

The leftist leader took Boric to task for his remarks at the summit in Brussels. Boric had urged fellow Latin American leaders to clearly condemn the war, arguing Russia had violated international law and that “today it’s Ukraine, tomorrow it could be anyone of us.”

“Possibly, the lack of habit of participating in these meetings makes a young person more eager, more rushed,” Lula said in response to a question. “We have to understand that not everyone agrees with us, not everyone is in the same rush, has the same view about something.” He added that Boric’s first EU-Latin America meeting might have prompted him to have “a little bit more anxiety than the others.”

At the summit, Lula’s reluctance to accept any strong language on Russia disappointed EU countries and strengthened Latin American nations — including Cuba and Venezuela — who had opposed a tough position, officials said. Lula was wary of upsetting Russia, according to one senior diplomat. French President Emmanuel Macron however praised him as “able to build bridges.”

Senior EU officials insisted that the final statement was a great achievement because it mentioned the “war against Ukraine” and was signed by all countries but Nicaragua, but Lula repeatedly insisted on Wednesday morning that his position had not changed.

When German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Latin America in January, Lula rejected his request to send ammunition to Ukraine. Brazil Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira, meeting his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, said in April that economic sanctions placed on Russia are taking an unnecessary toll on nations that aren’t involved in the conflict. Brazil has refused to participate in the sanctions.

Lula said he was “very optimistic” that a trade accord with the Mercosur countries — Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay — would be concluded by the end of the year. Talks on the accord stretch back more than 20 years. Latin American states have baulked at the EU’s Green Deal, and rules to reduce CO2 emissions that include strict conditions to gain access to the European market. 
 

By Ania Nussbaum, Maria Tadeo and Joao Lima/Bloomberg
 

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