BRASILIA, April 18 (Reuters) – Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Tuesday condemned Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and renewed calls for mediation to end the war, a move criticized by the Ukrainian government.
Speaking at a luncheon with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Lula said a group of neutral countries should come together to help broker peace between Russia and Ukraine.
His comments came after he sparked a storm among Western allies by saying at the weekend that he was prolonging the fighting by supplying Ukraine with weapons.
A White House spokesman accused Lula of “parroting Russian and Chinese propaganda without looking at the facts.” On Tuesday, the White House said Lula’s “tone of moderation was absent.”
In Washington, a person familiar with the matter said U.S. officials had privately made clear to their Brazilian counterparts the Biden administration’s displeasure with Lula’s criticism of arming Ukraine.
The White House did not immediately respond to a Reuters question, but on Tuesday Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said he had “talked about a lot of bilateral and global things” with his Brazilian security adviser, Celso Amorim. issues including Russia’s war against Ukraine.”
Earlier, Amorim joined the war of words, calling the US criticism “absurd” and insisting that Brazil does not share Russia’s position.
“Brazil defends the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Amorim told Globo TV. But he added: “As long as there are no talks, there will be no better peace for the Ukrainians and the Russians. There must be concessions.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Lula in Brasilia on Monday to thank him for his peace efforts.
Lula pitched himself as a peace broker to end the war, which began in February 2022 when Russia invaded the neighboring country. His proposal, based on Brazil’s tradition of non-intervention and neutrality, calls for a group of non-belligerent nations. Both Russia and Ukraine should be involved in the negotiations.
Ukraine criticized Lula’s proposal because it equates “victim and aggressor” and on Tuesday invited Brazil’s president to look at the consequences of the Russian invasion of the war-torn country.
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said Ukraine was keenly following Lula’s efforts to resolve the war. But he rejected Lula’s comments over the weekend that countries arming Kiev were prolonging the war.
The EU has also rejected Lula’s claim that Ukraine and Russia are responsible for the war. European Union Foreign Affairs Spokesperson All aid is aimed at Ukraine’s “legitimate security,” Peter Stano said.
Lula said Russia should return territory it occupied last year, but he suggested Ukraine could sacrifice Crimea, which was occupied by Russian forces in 2014, a suggestion Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky flatly rejected.
Zelensky has urged world leaders to accept his 10-point peace plan, which calls for the withdrawal of Russian troops, a ceasefire and the restoration of Ukraine’s original borders with Russia.
Anthony Bodle reports; Editing by Brad Haynes and Jonathan Otis
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Anthony has covered Brazilian politics since 2012, four years of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro followed by the narrow 2022 election of leftist President Lula, and the turmoil facing Brazilian democracy. He has reported from Chile under General Pinochet and from Havana under Fidel Castro. He also covered US-Latin American affairs in Washington 1995-2002. Anthony holds an MA in Politics from the University of Essex. Contact: 55 61 98204-1110