Brazil’s Lula snubs Olaf Scholz with Ukraine war remarks

Brazilian president rebuffs German chancellor on support for Ukraine during a tense press conference.

By Hans von der Burchard
January 31, 2023

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Brazil’s freshly inaugurated President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva traded barbs late Monday on who’s responsible for Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, as the latter suggested that Kyiv could also be at fault.

Scholz arrived to the capital Brasília late Monday as part of a South American trip aimed at advancing a long-delayed EU-Mercosur trade and political cooperation deal, and to rally countries of the Global South behind the West’s support for Ukraine.

Yet on Ukraine, Scholz received a brutal rebuff.

Following the amicable start of a joint press conference, in which the Brazilian president said that he wants to finalize the EU trade deal “by the end of the current semester,” the mood turned sour after Lula raised the war in Ukraine and rejected Germany’s appeal to support Kyiv with weapons and ammunition.

“If one doesn’t want to, two can’t fight,” Lula told reporters, implying Ukraine as well had a role in Russia’s invasion.

“I think the reason for the war between Russia and Ukraine also needs to be clearer. Is it because of NATO? Is it because of territorial claims? Is it because of entry into Europe? The world has little information about that,” Lula added.

While he said that Russia committed “a classic mistake” by invading Ukraine’s territory, he also argued that neither side was showing sufficient willingness to resolve the war via negotiation: “No one wants to back down a millimeter,” he said.

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