Lula Brushes Off Germany’s Appeal for Brazil to Send Weapons to Ukraine
(Bloomberg) -- Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva turned down a German request to send ammunition to Ukraine as part of the international effort to help Kyiv repel the Russian invasion.
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“Brazil has no interest in passing on ammunition so that it will be used in the war,” Lula told reporters at a press conference in Brasilia alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Scholz has been trying to rally support for Ukraine during a four-day visit to South America after agreeing earlier this month to send German battle tanks, armored fighting vehicles and a Patriot missile battery to the government in Kyiv. While the front lines in the conflict have been relatively stable so far this year, Russia has been attacking residential areas and the Ukrainian power grid with missiles, and both sides are looking to build up their supplies ahead of renewed fighting expected in the spring.
“It is right and remains right that many countries in the world support Ukraine, with humanitarian aid, but also with weapons,” Scholz said at the end of his trip on Tuesday in Brasilia. His team was surprised by the hard line Lula took on the issue during their meeting, a German official said, asking not to be identified discussing private conversations.
Chilean President Gabriel Boric offered the clearest response to Scholz’s appeals, condemning President Vladimir Putin’s “war of aggression.”
“We will always defend multilateralism, the peaceful solution of conflicts and, above all, the validity of human rights,” Boric said after meeting with Scholz in Santiago Sunday. Boric said he had promised Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to help with the clearing of land mines after the war.
“I am very thankful for Chile’s clear position on this question and really also touched because it is important that there are states which help to argue here with a clear position,” Scholz said at a joint presser with Boric. “It is also important that there are other democracies in South America which share this view.”
In Argentina, however, Scholz was less successful, with President Alberto Fernandez refusing to offer any military assistance follow a meeting in Buenos Aires on Saturday. “The chancellor and I wish for peace to return to the region as soon as possible,” Fernandez said.
Scholz has tried to establish a rapport with the South American leaders by talking about his own experiences on their continent. In Buenos Aires, he told his audience that he had first visited Argentina in the 1980s as a young Socialist and then again later as a tourist in Patagonia. In Santiago, he recalled a visit to Chile during the final phase of the Pinochet dictatorship.
On his last stop in Brasilia, he encountered in Lula a leader who remains ambivalent about the Russian invasion and who has in the past criticized Zelenskiy and blamed him for the conflict.
Lula, in line with Brazil’s traditional foreign policy, likes to portray himself as a mediator of conflicts in a multipolar world, rather than an automatic ally of the US and the European Union. A German government official suggested that Lula’s reluctance to condemn Putin may also be shaped by the large quantity of fertilizers that Brazilian farmers buy from Russia.
At their joint appearance, Scholz said that many countries, including Brazil, could get drawn into territorial conflicts if other leaders decided to “leaf through the history books” like Putin - a reference to the Russian leader’s claims on Ukrainian territory, which are disputed by many academics.
“Brazil does not want to have any participation, even indirect,” Lula said. “We should be looking for who can help to find peace between Russia and Ukraine.”
(Updates with comment from Scholz in fourth paragraph)
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