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News > Brazil

Lula and Bolsonaro on Ukraine and Sanctions Against Russia

  • Several people walk in front of a street towel stall with images of the current president of Brazil and candidate for re-election, Jair Bolsonaro, and his contender, former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

    Several people walk in front of a street towel stall with images of the current president of Brazil and candidate for re-election, Jair Bolsonaro, and his contender, former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva | Photo: EFE / Andre Coelho

Published 30 September 2022

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2011) are the favorites for the presidential elections that Brazil will hold on Sunday, October 2. Over the last few months, they have made several statements that portray what they think about the conflict in Ukraine and the sanctions against Russia.

Lula seems to be the clear favorite in all opinion polls. His vision of the conflict was evident in an interview he gave Time magazine in May this year. Here are some of his most memorable phrases:

"He (Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky) wanted war. He would have negotiated a little more if he didn't want war. That's how it is. I criticized (Russian President Vladimir) Putin when I was in Mexico City, saying it was a mistake to invade. But I don't think anyone is contributing to peace. People are stimulating hatred against Putin. That is not going to solve it. You have to stimulate an agreement, but there is an encouragement (to confrontation)!"

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"Sometimes I see the president of Ukraine on TV as if he's celebrating, being given a standing ovation by all the parliaments, you know? That guy is as responsible as Putin. He's as responsible as Putin."

"Biden could say, 'Let's talk some more. We don't want Ukraine in NATO, period. It's not a concession.'"

In early September, Lula said that if he wins the election, he intends to talk with Russia and Ukraine about ending the conflict.

"If we win and the war is not over, we will talk with them and tell them that war is of no interest to anyone, only to arms sellers, and we want to sell culture, books, food to humanity."

In April, he had already said during an event at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) that Brazil would be a better negotiator and that peace could be reached at a bar table, which caused uneasiness in the diplomatic representation of Ukraine in Brazil.

"Who is interested in this war? From everything I understand, read and hear here in Brazil, this war would be solved at a table drinking beer; if not at first, at the second, if not at the third, it would continue until the bottles run out for a peace agreement."


In February this year, Bolsonaro met with Putin in Moscow, shortly before the start of the special military operation in Ukraine, and expressed solidarity with Russia.

"We are in solidarity with Russia. We have a lot to collaborate on in several areas. Defense, oil and gas, agriculture and the meetings are going on."

In June, Bolsonaro and Putin had a phone conversation to discuss energy and the shipment of Russian fertilizers to Brazil.

"I recently had a phone call with President Putin, from Russia, where we discussed food security and energy security (...) so, Brazil is working, making progress, moving forward and we are winning."

In July, during a conversation with supporters, he openly criticized the sanctions against Russia.

"The US and European economic barriers against Russia did not work. My line was that of balance, in addition to negotiating fertilizers, food security for the world and the sovereignty of our Amazon."

In the same month, Bolsonaro stated that he would propose to Zelenski that he do what Argentina did in the case of the Falklands in 1982, accept defeat and surrender.

"I will give my opinion on what I believe—the solution for the case. I know what the solution to the case would look like, but I'm not going to advance it. The solution to the case... How did Argentina's war with the United Kingdom end in 1982? That's the way it goes. We regret it, the truth is that these are things that hurt, but we must understand it".

It was in September of this year, in his speech at the UN General Assembly, that he spent the most time addressing the issue:

"At the United Nations and other forums, we have tried to avoid blocking the channels of dialogue caused by polarization around the conflict. In this sense, we are against diplomatic and economic isolation."

"The consequences of the conflict are already being felt in the world prices of food, fuel and other inputs."

"We support all efforts to reduce the economic impacts of this crisis. But we do not believe that the best path is the adoption of unilateral and targeted sanctions, contrary to international law. These measures have harmed the recovery of the economy and affected human rights of vulnerable populations, including in countries in Europe itself."

"The solution to the conflict in Ukraine will be reached only through negotiation and dialogue." 

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