The Chief Minister of the General Secretariat of the Presidency of the Republic, Márcio Macêdo, stated that, at the request of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), Brazil will send former Chancellor Celso Amorim, currently a special advisor to the Presidency, to Ukraine.
Macêdo spoke to journalists at the hotel where the presidential delegation is staying, in Lisbon. Lula is on an official visit to Portugal and, subsequently, to Spain.
“President Lula determined and instructed me to say that the special adviser to the Presidency for international affairs, the ex-chancellor Celso Amorim, who was in Russia, is going to visit Ukraine,” said Macêdo.
He said there was still no date for the visit and cited “security issues”.
Questioned about Lula’s recent speeches equating Russia and Ukraine and accusing the US and the European Union of prolonging the conflict, Macêdo said that the president was “misinterpreted”.
“I think there was an interpretation that does not match President Lula’s position.”
“We respect the position of the European continent, of the countries that are in some way in the conflict. But Brazil’s position is one of neutrality, for a very simple reason: if Brazil takes sides, it loses the political authority to join peers and countries to find a path to peace. This is President Lula’s feeling and this is Brazil’s tradition”.
“We defend the sovereignty of countries and the self-determination of their peoples”.
Macêdo confirmed that he received a letter written by the Association of Ukrainians in Portugal and addressed to Lula, which BBC News Brasil had access to.
In the document, the Ukrainians say that the Brazilian president’s statements “made us very worried and apprehensive”.
“We consider that any kind of support that Brazil can give to the Russian Federation will be discrediting, will lead to distrust of the international community, including regarding its position in the UN Security Council”, says the letter.
“No one wants to see the good name of Brazil, as a democratic and free nation, tarnished as an ally of the criminal Kremlin regime, which is why Your Excellency’s recent statements left us very worried and apprehensive”.
Lula’s visit to Portugal comes amid the negative repercussions of the Brazilian’s statements about the war in Ukraine.
Member of the European Union and NATO, the Western military alliance, Portugal has declared open support for the country invaded by Russia and has even sent Leopard tanks to Kiev.
Criticism not only came from the association of Ukrainians in Portugal, but also from opposition parties.
On a recent visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he made a stop after his trip to China, the PT attributed to the US and the European Union the responsibility for prolonging the war in Ukraine.
“The president [Vladimir] Putin does not take the initiative to stop. [Volodymyr] Zelensky does not take the initiative to stop. Europe and the United States continue to contribute to the continuation of this war,” he said.
Earlier this month, Lula had already stated that Ukraine could cede Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, in the name of peace.
After the controversy, the PT condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“While my government condemns the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, we defend a negotiated political solution to the conflict,” Lula said during a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis this week.
It was not just in Portugal that Lula’s speeches about the war in Ukraine were poorly received.
John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator at the National Security Council at the White House in the United States, called the Brazilian president’s stance an “automatic repetition of Russian and Chinese propaganda” and “deeply problematic”.
“It is deeply problematic how Brazil has addressed this issue in a substantive and rhetorical way, suggesting that the United States and Europe are somehow not interested in peace or that we share responsibility for war,” he said in conversation with journalists.
“Frankly, in this case, Brazil is repeating Russia’s propaganda without looking at the facts,” he added.
For Kirby, “Brazil’s most recent comments that Ukraine should consider formally ceding Crimea as a peace concession are simply misguided, especially for a country like Brazil that voted to uphold the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity in the Assembly- General of the UN”.
The spokesperson for Foreign Affairs of the European Union, Peter Stano, also refuted Lula’s speeches about the war, highlighting that Russia is “solely responsible” for the conflict.
“Fact number one is that Russia — and only Russia — is responsible for unprovoked and illegitimate aggression against Ukraine. So there is no doubt about who is the aggressor and who is the victim,” said Stano, noting that Brazil condemned the invasion of Ukraine at the UN (United Nations).
Stano added that US and EU are not contributing to prolong the war, but helping Kiev in its legitimate defense.
“Otherwise, Ukraine would face destruction. The Ukrainian nation and Ukraine as a country would be destroyed because these are Putin’s declared war goals,” he said.
The malaise was further aggravated by the official trip of the Russian Foreign Minister, Serguei Lavrov, to Brasília earlier this week.
One of the Lula government’s proposals is the creation of a “peace club”, a forum for countries that Brasilia considers not aligned with either side of the conflict to mediate negotiations between Kiev and Moscow.
On Tuesday (18/4), the government of Ukraine, through its chancellery spokesman, Oleg Nikolenko, once again invited Lula to visit Kiev.
In a Facebook post, Nikolenko said he wants the Brazilian to understand “the true causes of Russian aggression and its consequences for global security.”
Lula had already been invited by the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, last month, when the two spoke by videoconference for the first time. At the time, the petista said he would accept the invitation at an opportune moment.
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