Analysis. In Lula’s view, ‘concessions’ means that Russia should return the territory invaded last year in exchange for Ukraine giving up Crimea, which, however, neither Ukraine nor the United States seem willing to consider.

Brazil insists on peace negotiations, but ‘there must be concessions’

If the goal is to build a multipolar world, but without antagonizing the United States, this task is proving to be fraught with pitfalls for progressive Latin American governments. Everyone is walking on eggshells, as can be seen by the White House’s irritation with Lula accusing the U.S. and Europe of prolonging the war in Ukraine by sending arms to Kyiv without bothering to talk about “making peace.”

On Tuesday, at a lunch with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Lula used more moderate tones, clearly condemning of the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, then once again reiterating his proposal for how to end the conflict: setting up a negotiating commission composed of neutral governments, popularly known as a “peace club.” This, incidentally, will be one of the points he is planning to stress during his visit to Europe, with a stop in Portugal on Friday and then Spain.

It was also one of the topics of the talk between U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Lula’s Special Adviser Celso Amorim on Tuesday, a conversation that officially centered on “a number of bilateral and global issues,” but whose purpose was certainly that of overcoming tensions between the two governments.

It came after a rather strong clash of words: after Lula’s statements on the responsibilities borne by the United States and the European Union and the visit to Brazil by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the White House, through National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, accused the Brazilian government of “parroting Russian and Chinese propaganda without looking at the facts.” Kyiv invited Lula to visit Ukraine, to see for himself that there was in fact a “victim” and an “aggressor” and realize that the two cannot be treated on equal footing. And EU foreign policy spokesman Peter Stano also spoke out, pointing out that all aid sent by Europe was aimed at the “legitimate defense” of the attacked country.

Amorim, formerly Lula’s foreign minister, called the accusations against the Brazilian government “absurd” and reiterated the position that has been expressed many times by the president: Brazil in no way approves of the invasion of Ukraine, but instead of supporting the policy of sanctions on Russia and the attempts to “weaken” or “defeat” it, it chooses to advocate for peace negotiations.

“What do they want? Revenge? To teach a lesson?” said Amorim, recalling that “the last time this was attempted,” after Germany’s defeat in World War I, “it ended up the way it ended up.”

In short, Amorim said, “as long as there are no talks, the ideal peace for the Ukrainians and the Russians will not happen. There must be concessions.” In Lula’s view, this means that Russia should return the territory invaded last year in exchange for Ukraine giving up Crimea, which, however, neither Ukraine nor the United States seem willing to consider.

However, despite the harsh words exchanged, no one wants a rift: “We are confident in the strength of the relationship between the United States and Brazil, even if we disagree with some of the things President Lula said,” said White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.

Meanwhile, on Thursday Biden received a visit from another Latin American president, the progressive Gustavo Petro, and they were set to discuss the fight against drugs, migration, the protection of the Amazon, but also Petro’s peace plan for Venezuela, which has a clear goal: the lifting of sanctions on Caracas, as an international conference organized on April 25 by the Colombian government is drawing near, with the explicit aim to unblock the dialogue between Maduro and the Venezuelan opposition currently under way in Mexico City.

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