- Mariana Sanches – mariana_sanches
- From BBC News Brazil in Washington
The US government said on Friday (28/01) that “Brazil has a responsibility to uphold democratic principles and protect the rules-based order, and to reinforce this message to Russia at every opportunity.”
The statement came in response to questions from BBC News Brasil about Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (PL)’s visit to Russian President Vladimir Putin, scheduled for February.
Bolsonaro confirmed the trip yesterday, amid escalating military tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border.
“he [Putin] Yes, it is conservative. I will be there next month, looking for better understandings, business relationships. “The whole world is kind to us,” Bolsonaro told his supporters on Thursday, 1/27, in front of the Palacio da Alvorada.
For months, the Russians deployed their forces at strategic points near Ukrainian territory and demanded that Ukraine be banned from NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
On the other hand, the United States and members of the military alliance have pledged to help Ukraine which they supplied with weapons, and US President Joe Biden has 8,500 American soldiers ready to deploy to bases in the Baltic states if Moscow continues to move forward with some war initiatives in the region.
Brazil is now a US non-NATO military ally – a title given to the country during the Donald Trump administration – and last year it received approval from the US to become a global partner in the military alliance, which would expand further. Brazilian access to armaments and joint military training.
In addition, the country has just taken a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council. A little more than two weeks ago, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spoke by phone with Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Franca about what the US State Department described as “shared priorities, including the need for a strong and united response against new aggressions.” Russians to Ukraine.
Itamaraty emphasized in a note that Ukraine was part of the conversation between the ministers, with much less focus on the topic than that given by the Americans.
Despite being part of the conversation, the Americans were not communicated through diplomatic channels by the Brazilians about the trip.
“We are aware of (Bolsonaro’s trip to Russia) due to public information,” a US State Department spokesperson told BBC News Brasil.
The US government also said that “the United States and a large number of countries are concerned about the destabilizing role that Russia plays in the region.”
Asked about the content of the agenda the Brazilian president discussed with Putin and whether, as a non-NATO ally, he would put himself in a position on the conflict between Russia and the Allies, the Ettamarati only recommended that BBC News Brazil consult Palácio do Planalto.
Planalto responded to the report that he had no details of the trip yet and did not comment on the State Department’s comments.
A Brazilian diplomat privately told BBC News Brazil that the country deals in a “sovereign” manner with its interests “without having to ask any other country for permission” and historically “talks with everyone, without that meaning agreeing to everything the interlocutor does”.
Unlike the United States and China, Russia is not a major trading ally of Brazil (it is not even among the top ten partners).
Among the Brazilian products, Russians import soybeans, animal protein, sugar, coffee and tobacco. On the other hand, they export agricultural inputs like fertilizers, potash and urea to Brazil.
In recent years, with increasing barriers to protecting Brazilian products such as beef, they have shown an interest in investing in the Angra 3 nuclear power plant and in infrastructure works, such as port terminals.
Talks on bilateral trade agreements have not progressed satisfactorily and there is currently no expectation, at least from the Brazilian side, of the possibility of signing such a treaty between the two countries.
As for supporters, in addition to talking more generally about strengthening “understandings” and “trade relations”, Bolsonaro cited the Russian messaging application Telegram. The network, one of the Bolsonaro family’s favorite networks for communicating with voters, has become the target of actions by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), which is concerned about its applicability to widespread disinformation. Unlike other platforms, Telegram does not have an office in Brazil.
“He’s handling the matter, he’s handling the matter there,” Bolsonaro said when asked about Telegram. “We see here the cowardice they are trying to do with Brazil. Cowardice, right,” said the president, who opposes justice’s restrictions on demand.
Sympathy between Putin and Bolsonaro
Sympathy between Putin and Bolsonaro is not new. In 2020, during the summit of the BRICS, a bloc made up of the two countries, plus China, India and South Africa, the Russian president said that the Brazilian head of state has “the best masculine qualities.”
“You have expressed the best of masculine qualities and determination. You have sought a solution to all questions, first of all based on the interests of your people, your country, leaving solutions to your personal health problems for later. This is for all of us an example of a courageous relationship with the fulfillment of one’s duty and the fulfillment of one’s obligations. As head of state,” Putin said, regarding Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic, which sparked international criticism of the Brazilian.
In December, shortly after the Brazilian chancellor visited Russia, Putin formalized an invitation to Bolsonaro to visit the Kremlin. “We will be happy to see the president of Brazil in Russia,” he told Russia’s state-run TASS news agency, adding that Brazil is “one of the most strategic countries” with which Russia has relations. In the face of the invitation, Bolsonaro said he was “very happy and very honored” and said it was a window of opportunity.
“Let’s prepare to make this visit an opportunity to benefit our economy,” the president said in December of last year.
Diplomats and foreign trade experts see the visit as a political attempt by Bolsonaro to show local voters that he has high-level international interlocutors.
For Putin, who accuses Americans of militarily close to his territory, welcoming the head of Latin America’s largest country is an advantage while the West hardens its stance against him. Before the Brazilian, Putin will receive Argentine President Alberto Fernandez in February.
Contrary to the wishes of the United States, Brazil is unlikely to issue any public or private warning to Putin. In 2014, when the Russians annexed the then Ukrainian Crimea, Brazil, at that time headed by Dilma Rousseff, was completely excluded from the conflict.
In 2015, Brazil became one of the supporters of UN Security Council Resolution 2022, which deals with the Minsk agreements to end the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian armed forces in the eastern part of the country.
However, the agreements, which provided for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and the observance of the ceasefire, were repeatedly violated.
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