Lula lets Putin off the hook, renewing Bolsonaro policy of no-sanctions
December 8, 2022
Luca Mazzacane
(Pavia, Italy)
Alessandro Gosti
(Torino, Italy)

The recently re-elected President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has decided to follow his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, in not sanctioning Russia. That Brazil in March 2022 condemned Russia’s invasion is not translating into any material consequences for Moscow. 

In that same month, Brazil's Foreign Minister Carlos França indicated that Bolsonaro’s government was opposed to excluding Russia from the G20. Brazil also abstained in the vote that expelled Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. 

This kind of cooperation between the countries is not being welcomed by Washington, given Brazil's global economic weight as the main economy of the Global South. But such support for Moscow has also been shown by the other leading emerging economies of China, India and South Africa (known as the “Brics” states, along with Russia and Brazil), as well as numerous other South American, African and Asian nations.


When interviewed by Time magazine in May 2022, Lula was asked whether he would have called Putin to try to convince him to seek a ceasefire with Kiev.


“[...]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.”

Putin congratulated Lula on his win in Brazil's October presidential election, saying that they would develop a constructive cooperation in all areas. Lula's reelection came within a context of a majority center-right Brazilian Congress. Now, from Bolsonaro to Lula, there is at least one continuity in foreign policy: the refusal to implement the economic sanctions decided by the West against Russia.


Being one of the most prominent countries in development necessitates Brazil having good economic relationships with the most important players in the global market. Not just in trade generally, but most importantly with soybeans and solar energy as key points in those relationships. China has market access in most countries of the world, but has been especially vital for Russia in the past year. Therefore, Brazil would never pose a threat to the status of sino-russian trade and economic benefits.

From Brasilia’s point of view, its growth depends heavily on what Beijing wants to buy — from energy to minerals to agricultural commodities. The Western part of the world is not sufficiently present to successfully challenge the synergy of Brazil with Russia and China.



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