Asharq: America and Brazil… Relationships burnt by the fire of the Amazon and the Ukraine war
“The United States and Europe are extending the term of the war by continuing to send weapons to Kiev”.
This statement made by Brazilian President Lula da Silva from the heart of the Chinese capital, Beijing, was nothing but an expression of the fire under the ashes in the American-Brazilian relations.
A fire fueled by “disappointment” that Da Silva returned from Washington on his first foreign visit after his inauguration as president, as the United States contented itself with announcing support for the Amazon Fund, the largest fund for forest protection, at an amount of only $50 million, while it was supposed to provide it many times that amount, according to O Globo newspaper.
Two months after this visit, Lula expressed his intention to travel to China, the largest commercial competitor of the United States in the region and the world, in order to conclude a set of economic agreements in addition to discussing the peace initiative, which Lula seeks to present to the conflicting parties in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A visit preceded by political moves by Brazil last March, as it sent the special presidential advisor for foreign policy, Celso Amorim, to Russia, to talk about the possibility of Moscow accepting mediation led by Brazil, with the aim of stopping the war on Ukrainian lands, but the advisor returned to Brazil and did not visit Ukraine or communicate with its leaders.
According to the former Brazilian ambassador to the United States, Rubens Barbosa, “what angered the Americans isn’t the Brazilian-Chinese economic rapprochement, but Brazil’s attempt to put forward a peace initiative from China’s gate, as the United States considers China the first ally of its Russian opponent, and it is difficult for Washington to accept a Chinese role as a mediator in the peace process”.
Barbosa told Asharq that the parties to the conflict are not ready to sit down and negotiate, as there are no points of understanding between them on which negotiations can be built.
US officials say they were surprised and disappointed by Brazil’s recent diplomatic moves, given that they don’t give a serious impression of the possibility of playing a mediating role in stopping the Russian war in Ukraine.
The statements that most provoked the US administration were those made by President Lula da Silva, last Sunday, before returning to Brazil from his tour in China, where he said, “The United States and Europe are extending the war by continuing to send weapons to Kiev”.
Lula da Silva added, “Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t take the initiative to stop, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky doesn’t take the initiative to stop, and Europe and the United States continue to contribute to the continuation of this war”.
As a result of these statements, the Brazilian president was subjected, on Monday, to harsh criticism from Washington.
“In this case, Brazil is parroting Russian and Chinese propaganda without looking at the facts,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, told reporters.
Trying to calm down
Trying to calm down, especially after a campaign of European and American pressure, Lula changed his tone, and spoke in a more formal way, during a lunch in the presidential palace with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, saying, “At the same time that my government condemns the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, we defend for a negotiated political solution to the conflict.
He also added that he was concerned about the global consequences of confrontation between the parties to the conflict, such as energy and food shortages, and stressed the need to form a group of countries that would bring Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table to reach peace.
Lula is visiting Portugal and Spain between April 21 and 25, with the aim of discussing the future of economic cooperation, in addition to calming the atmosphere with European countries directly linked to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, trying to convince them of the possibility of success in the mediating role that Brazil will play to stop the war.
However, a number of Brazilian political analysts believe that this mediation will not be successful in light of the high frequency of disputes between the parties and the increasing military escalation between them.
Not the first shake
Bruno Belkini, a professor of international relations at the University of Rio Grady, tells Asharq, “The relationship between the two countries was founded on solid foundations based on the idea of exchanging long-term interests and maintaining a safe distance so that the two countries do not conflict politically or even economically”.
He added, “This relationship has historically been subjected to several shocks, the most important of which were those that occurred in the past years, specifically during the reign of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, as the latter is considered a close fan of former US President Donald Trump”.
He continued: “After Trump’s defeat and the return of the Democrats to power, disagreements emerged publicly, especially on environmental issues, forest protection and human rights, in addition to the diplomatic tensions that resulted from Bolsonaro’s public statements, which sparked widespread criticism about his management of the Coronavirus crisis”.
Historically, the United States was the first to recognize Brazil’s independence from Portugal in 1822 by opening a consulate in the city of Recife in the state of Pernambuco, in an US strategy to limit European influence in the southern continent that Washington considers a national security for the backyard of the United States.
On the other hand, during World War II, between 1939 and 1945, Brazil provided the Allied countries with an infantry division under the direct supervision of the United States Army, and granted its airports, ports, and military bases temporarily to the US army, to protect the crossings and paths of war and commercial ships.
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