Blood boils in Western corridors of power as two of Latin America’s most respected dignitaries say the unspeakable about the conflict in Ukraine.
TIME magazine’s interview of the former, and quite possibly future, President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will have no doubt raised hackles in Washington, Brussels, London and Kiev. In it, Lula spreads the blame widely for the current war in Ukraine. He also insisted that both Russia and Ukraine should do a little more jaw-jawing rather than war-waring and that peace could be easily achieved if only the US, EU and NATO would make a few basic assurances.
Putin shouldn’t have invaded Ukraine. But it’s not just Putin who is guilty. The U.S. and the E.U. are also guilty. What was the reason for the Ukraine invasion? NATO? Then the U.S. and Europe should have said: “Ukraine won’t join NATO.” That would have solved the problem.
The other issue was Ukraine joining the E.U. The Europeans could have said: “No, now is not the moment for Ukraine to join the E.U., we’ll wait.” They didn’t have to encourage the confrontation.
Asked what he would do if he had been president in the lead-up to the conflict, Lula inferred, once again, that a peaceful solution could be found if there was an actual desire for peace. He also said that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was equally to blame for the war as Putin.
If I was President, I would have phoned [Joe] Biden, and Putin, and Germany, and [Emmanuel] Macron. Because war is not the solution. I think the problem is that if you don’t try, you don’t fix things. And you have to try.
Lula Not an Outlier in Latin America
Lula is not the only Latin American dignitary who has spoken out this week against the West’s oft-ignored role in facilitating and fomenting the war in Ukraine. In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Pope Francis, an Argentinean of Italian immigrant parents, averred that NATO’s “barking” at Russia’s door may have “facilitated” Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The pontiff also said he has offered to meet the Russian president in Moscow.
Latin America, as a whole, has tried to strike a neutral stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Only four out of 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries — Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Bolivia — abstained in the vote to condemn Russia’s invasion during the emergency meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. On the other side of the divide, only a small number of governments in the region have publicly endorsed the West’s economic sanctions against Russia. They include Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Guatemala.