Tuesday 31 January 2023

Russia finds support in its Latin American allies after invading Ukraine

Most of the governments in the region condemn the invasion of the Kremlin, an act openly supported by Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua. Brazil and Mexico demand a ceasefire from the UN Security Council

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Q REPORTS – Russia is closing ranks with its allies in Latin America, a region where it finds international support that it does not have in much of the world after the invasion of Ukraine.

The governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have aligned themselves with Moscow and have legitimized the military operation launched by land, sea and air.

Nicolas Maduro

“What does the world want? That President Putin remain with his arms crossed and not act in defense of his people?” Nicolás Maduro questioned before the invasion in a television message in which he directly accused the “North American empire and NATO” of what could happen on the Russian-Ukrainian border.

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Later, once the Kremlin operation began, the Venezuelan government issued a statement expressing its “concern about the worsening of the crisis”, although it ends up attributing the drift to NATO.

Maduro’s interpretation of the military decision taken by Vladimir Putin against Ukraine coincides with that of the leadership of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. The communicational apparatus of Chavismo maintains that a military deployment is “absolutely legitimate” and that it is Russia that has seen its jurisdiction threatened by “imperialist powers”, which forces it to defend itself.

“As President Nicolás Maduro has said, the peace of Russia is the peace of the world,” Foreign Minister Félix Plascencia said on his Twitter account.

Vice president, Delcy Rodríguez, has, in turn, criticized the economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by Washington, while the government-controlled media repeat comments that call the government of Volodímir Zelenskyy “fascist”.

The government of Daniel Ortega has also endorsed its alliance with Russia and since last Monday applauded the Kremlin’s decision to recognize the independence of the Donbas and Lugansk regions.

Nicaragua was one of the first countries to declare “the importance of the independence of Donetsk and Lugansk, areas of Ukraine taken by pro-Russians, as happened with the annexation of Crimea to Russia, in 2014

“This decision made by President Putin opens the possibility that this situation will not have a major outcome,” Ortega said this week, in line with the Russian narrative on the conflict. The Nicaraguan president criticized the sanctions imposed on Russia by Europe and the United States.

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Read more: Support of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba to Russia “is stupid”, says Laura Chinchilla

In the midst of the invasion of Ukraine, the president of the state Duma, Viacheslav Volodin, has visited Managua to meet with Ortega, after visiting Cuba, where he thanked the support of the government of Miguel Díaz-Canel and expressed “his rejection of the interference in the internal affairs of Russia and the propaganda and communication hysteria.”

“We highlight the excellent state of bilateral relations and the will to consolidate the high level of political dialogue and exchanges in various sectors,” said Díaz-Canel.

Strong condemnation of Mexico

The war in the far east of Europe has moved the geopolitical chessboard in Latin America, despite the fact that it takes place thousands of kilometers away. The region has two non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: Mexico and Brazil.

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“We are not in favor of any war,” Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said last Thursday. His government has said that the position of the North American country is “very energetic in favor of peace, of a peaceful solution, of politics instead of force,” according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which anticipates a “more specific” position as soon as there is a draft declaration from the Security Council.

In the morning, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said that a break in relations with Russia was not contemplated and pointed out that the priority is to guarantee the safety of some 200 Mexicans in Ukraine. Later, he more clearly defined his position by openly rejecting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the minister said in a video in which, for the first time, he explicitly names and censures Moscow’s military operation.

“We are very clear that we are facing an invasion, there is no longer any doubt about it,” Ebrard said in a recorded message this Thursday and that serves as a preview of what the position of the Latin American country will be in the next session of the Security Council of United Nations this Friday.

“Because of history and tradition, because of our formation as a nation, we have to strongly reject and condemn the invasion of a country like Ukraine by a power like Russia,” said the foreign minister.

Bolsonaro discredits his vice president

Brazil has spoken through its diplomacy and its vice president, although they have later been discredited by the president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has not yet defined his position against the invasion. In the morning, the Foreign Ministry called for “the immediate cessation of hostilities and the start of negotiations leading to a diplomatic solution.”

His note expressed concern, but did not explicitly condemn what he describes as “military operations of the Russian Federation against targets on the territory of Ukraine.” A week after Bolsonaro visited Putin and expressed his solidarity, Brazil is seeking a complex balance so as not to displease Russia or the US. Nothing new for a country that was among the neutrals in the Cold War.

Sooner or later he will have to further define his position as the sessions of the UN Security Council progress.

Bolsonaro, meanwhile, seemed to be buying time. The president ignored the news for much of the day in his public messages, even though the war may impact the economy (for better and worse) and because Brazil has a large community of Ukrainian descent.

Who did speak early was the vice president, Hamilton Mourão. He did it forcefully. For Mourão, a general in the reserves, sanctioning Russia is insufficient. He believes that a military response is needed because “the Western world is like in 1938 with Hitler. Putin does not respect appeasement,” he said.

Later, during his weekly Facebook live, Bolsonaro discredited him by saying that foreign policy is the province of the president. The president has not clarified, however, what his position is regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For his part, former president Lula da Silva, leader in the presidential polls, has been lukewarm. He has criticized the wars to resolve differences between countries and also the powers that undertake invasions without mentioning the aggressor or the attacked country.

Chile has unreservedly expressed its rejection of the armed attack against Ukraine. “Russia has chosen war as a means of resolving conflicts. From Chile we condemn the invasion of Ukraine, the violation of its sovereignty and the illegitimate use of force”, President-elect Gabriel Boric wrote on his social networks.

“Our solidarity will be with the victims and our humble efforts with peace,” he added. The right-wing Sebastián Piñera, who will leave the presidency on March 11, called for an international cooperation effort to find a negotiated solution.

After several days without making a statement, Argentina has broken its silence on the escalation of the war in Ukraine to join the condemnation of the “use of armed force” by Russia.

“Fair and lasting solutions can only be achieved through dialogue and mutual commitments that ensure the essential peaceful coexistence. For this reason, it calls on the Russian Federation to cease military actions in Ukraine,” the Argentine Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The government of Peronist Alberto Fernández has also demanded “that all those involved act with the greatest prudence and de-escalate the conflict in all its aspects right now to guarantee peace and comprehensive security for all nations.”

The reaction of the Argentine Government shows the blow that the attack on Ukraine represents for Russian diplomacy in South America. In early February, Fernández traveled to Moscow and met with Putin, to whom he offered Argentina to be his “gateway to Latin America.”

The good relationship between the two countries was also evident during the pandemic, when Argentina was the first country in the region to bet on the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and then began to produce it on national territory and exported it to other countries, such as Bolivia.

The Luis Arce government has opted for a more neutral position. “Bolivia calls for peace and urges the parties to seek political-diplomatic solutions within the framework of International Law and the Charter of the United Nations,” the Bolivian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Colombia categorically rejects the premeditated and unjustified attack that has been perpetrated against the Ukrainian people by Russia, which not only undermines its sovereignty but also threatens world peace,” said the president, Iván Duque, in a recorded speech.

Costa Rica stated that it “condemns the use of force and the violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”, while the Government of Honduras has called in recent days to find a negotiated solution. “

“We are in the Security Council in one of the most severe crises in recent times, for many since World War II,” comments Enrique Berruga, Mexico’s ambassador to the UN between 2003 and 2007.

“For Latin America, it would be It is sensational to have a unified position in relation to this conflict, but terrible fractures persist,” says Berruga in the face of the differences that exist between the main countries of the region, although he assures that there is room to work on a joint action that has a greater impact on the system. international.

In the background of the dispute between the powers, the region is following the development of the conflict step by step in the face of possible economic impacts, in a complex balance between internal and foreign politics, and with a narrow margin of maneuver in the international system.

Article translated and adapted from ElPais.com. Click here to read the original (in Spanish).

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