Russia’s economy is too ‘big and strategic’ to be isolated, Celso Amorim tells Bloomberg
Celso Amorim, Brazil’s former foreign minister and current foreign policy adviser to presidential frontrunner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, condemned Western sanctions against Russia and said that if Lula takes office, Brazil will draw a different way.
In an interview with Bloomberg published on Friday, Amorim claimed that the West’s response to the Russian military operation in Ukraine – sanctions against Russia and billions of dollars worth of weapons for Ukraine – has made war nuclear a real possibility.
“For the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we see articles about the risk of nuclear weapons published every week,” he said, arguing that “It is irresponsible not to pursue peace.”
Amorim’s argument mirrors that of Lula himself. In May, the former Brazilian leader told Time magazine that he held Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky also responsible for the conflict in Ukraine, and condemned Washington for encouraging him to oppose Russia.
“The United States has a lot of political weight. And Biden could have avoided [the conflict]not encouraged, Lula was arguing at the time.
From a US perspective, Amorim questioned the logic of pushing Russia into a deeper partnership with China, another American economic and military rival.
“I have nothing against China” he said, adding that both are part of the BRICS group, but said he “I do not understand the interest of the United States in strengthening Sino-Russian relations.”
That relationship aside, Amorim told Bloomberg that an economy as large as Russia’s is “too big and strategic” isolate, and that the Lula administration would not pursue such policies if the leftist two-term president were elected in October. Speaking to Time in May, Lula said that “many different countries” are obliged to “pay the bill” for Washington’s radical anti-Russian policy, and that if elected, “Brazil will once again become a protagonist on the international scene and we will prove that it is possible to have a better world.”
Lula is currently 11 points ahead of incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, according to an aggregate compiled by the US-based Americas Society. If he wins in October, Amorim is likely to be influential in shaping his administration’s foreign policy, having served as Brazil’s foreign minister during Lula’s two terms from 2003 to 2010.
Nor did Bolsonaro follow the US lead on Ukraine. Although Brazil voted in the UN General Assembly to condemn Russia for the conflict, Bolsonaro refused to sanction Moscow and announced his intention to continue buying fertilizer from Russia and sign a new agreement to import Russian diesel.
Like Lula, Bolsonaro also partly blamed Kyiv for the conflict. The Ukrainians, he said in February, had “entrusted to a comedian the destiny of a nation”, reference to Zelensky.