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Amid Lavrov’s visit, Brazil defends its relations with Russia, rejects US criticism

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Rejecting US criticism that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is echoing Russian and Chinese propaganda over the Ukraine war, Brazil welcomed discussions with its top diplomat in Moscow on Monday.

Lula’s meeting with Sergei Lavrov in Brasilia follows state visits to China and the Middle East, during which he said the United States should “stop encouraging war and start talking about peace” in Ukraine.

He also claimed that Kiev bears responsibility for the conflict, which began when Russian forces poured into Ukraine in February 2022.

Lula’s comments echoed a line frequently used by Moscow and its strategic ally Beijing, which blames the West for the war.

China has sought to position itself as neutral on the Ukraine war, but has maintained its partnership with Moscow and refrained from imposing sanctions.

In the Brazilian capital, Lavrov thanked Lula for his discussions last week on seeking to mediate peace talks.

But Lula’s latest comments on Ukraine drew criticism from the White House, which has spearheaded international efforts to isolate Moscow and prop up Kiev.

“In this case, Brazil is parroting Russian and Chinese propaganda without looking at the facts at all,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday.

He described Lula’s letter on the war as “extremely problematic”.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira, who also met with his Russian counterpart, responded by saying, “I don’t know how or why he came to this conclusion, but I don’t agree at all.”

Despite Lula’s statements about the United States, the 77-year-old, who returned to power in January after serving two terms from 2003 to 2010, is also seeking closer ties with Washington.

His visit to China and the UAE came after his meeting in February with US President Joe Biden.

Latin American tour

Meanwhile, foreign ministers from the Group of Seven major nations warned on Tuesday that any country aiding Russia’s war effort would face “heavy costs”.

During a meeting in Japan, top diplomats from the world’s leading economies vowed to crack down on those helping Russia evade sanctions and acquire weapons.

Brazil did not join Western countries in imposing sanctions on Russia for its invasion and has refused requests to supply ammunition to Ukraine.

“We are grateful to our Brazilian friends for their clear understanding of the origins of the situation (in Ukraine), and we are grateful for their willingness to contribute to finding ways to resolve this situation,” Lavrov said after meeting his Brazilian counterpart.

“We are interested in resolving the conflict as quickly as possible,” he added.

However, he said that any solution must be based on “multi-polarity,” accusing the West of “attempting to dominate the international arena.”

Kirby said Washington had “no objection to any country trying to end the war.”

“It can happen now and today if Mr. (Russian President Vladimir) Putin stops attacking Ukraine and withdraws its forces,” he added.

Brazil is Lavrov’s first stop on a week-long Latin American tour that will also include Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba – countries with leftist governments hostile to the United States.

Lavrov and Brazil’s Vieira said their talks also focused on energy and trade.

About a quarter of Brazil’s agricultural fertilizer imports come from Russia, while the two countries engaged in a record bilateral trade of $9.8 billion last year.

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