Brazil’s Lula says no use saying ‘who is right’ in Ukraine war

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Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticised the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday, but said there was “no use now in saying who is right” in the conflict.

His comments came after he set off a storm among Western allies by stating earlier this month that they were prolonging the fighting by supplying arms to Ukraine.

“No one can doubt that Brazilians condemn Russia’s territorial violation of Ukraine. The mistake happened and the war started,” he said during an official visit to Spain.

“There is no use now in saying who is right, who is wrong. What we have to do now is stop the war,” he added at a joint press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

“No one in the world is talking about peace except for me, it is like being alone screaming in the desert.”

Lula, a 77-year-old former metalworker who served two previous terms as president from 2003 to 2010, has resisted taking sides over the conflict, neither with Europe and the United States, nor with China and Russia.

He raised hackles earlier this month by saying Washington should stop “encouraging” the war by supplying weapons to Kyiv.

Lula also angered Ukraine in recent days by suggesting it should agree to give up the Crimea peninsula, which Russia forcefully annexed in 2014 in a prelude to its invasion of Ukraine last year.

His comments were criticised by Europe, Ukraine and the United States, with Washington accusing him of “parroting Russian and Chinese propaganda”.

Asked in Madrid on Thursday about Crimea, Lula said, “it is not up to me to say who Crimea belongs to.”

“When you sit at a negotiating table you can discuss anything, even Crimea,” he added.

“But I am not going to discuss that, it is the Russians and the Ukrainians who will discuss that.”

‘Aggressor and victim’

Lula reiterated his proposal to create a “G20 for peace” — a group of mainly emerging nations that are neutral which would work to negotiate an end to the conflict in Ukraine.

He also criticised the United Nations for not doing more to end the war.

“The UN could have called an extraordinary session with all UN member states to discuss the war. Why didn’t it do so?,” the Brazilian president said.

Sanchez, meanwhile, said it was important to stress that the conflict started when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

“In this war there is an aggressor and a victim of an attack,” he said, adding “the aggressor is” Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It is essential that the country which was attacked…is listened to and that its peace proposal is taken into account.”

Spain, a NATO member whose foreign policy is closely aligned with the United States, is a staunch ally of Ukraine and will assume the rotating presidency of the EU in July.

Lula arrived in Madrid on Tuesday afternoon from Lisbon.

This is his first trip to Europe since he returned to office in January after beating far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in elections last year.

The veteran leftist returned to the presidency vowing “Brazil is back” on the international stage after four years of relative isolation under Bolsonaro.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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