Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is “as responsible as [Russian President Vladimir] Putin for the war,” Brazilian presidential frontrunner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told Time magazine on Wednesday, insisting that there is never just one guilty party in war.
Zelensky “could have said: ‘Come on, let’s stop talking about this NATO business, about joining the EU for a while. Let’s discuss a bit more first,’” Lula pointed out, while arguing that US President Joe Biden, too, could have derailed the crisis had he wished to. “The United States has a lot of political clout. And Biden could have avoided [the conflict], not incited it.”
Lula insisted the privileged position handed Zelensky by all western politicians is unjustifiable, noting that while he sees “the president of Ukraine, speaking on television, being applauded, getting a standing ovation by all the [European] parliamentarians,” Zelensky is “as responsible as Putin for the war,” and it is irresponsible for the West to embrace him without qualification.
You are encouraging this guy, and then he thinks he is the cherry on your cake. We should be having a serious conversation. OK, you were a nice comedian. But let us not make war for you to show up on TV.
Instead of implicitly promising the Ukrainian leader his heart’s desires, the US and EU should have reassured Russia that Ukraine would not join NATO, Lula argued, drawing parallels with the compromises made during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, in which both the US and USSR agreed to deescalate conflict by removing missiles from each other’s effective backyards. Such security guarantees have repeatedly cropped up during negotiations between Russia and NATO, only to be repeatedly scrapped by the West.
“War is no solution,” Lula repeated. “And now we are going to have to foot the bill because of the war on Ukraine. Argentina, Bolivia will also have to pay. You’re not punishing Putin. You’re punishing many different countries, you’re punishing mankind.”
The conflict in Ukraine has pulled up the curtain on the abject failure of the UN as a global body, Lula pointed out, claiming “today’s United Nations doesn’t represent anything anymore. Governments don’t take the UN seriously today, because they make decisions without respecting it. We need to create a new global governance.”
“Brazil will again become a protagonist on the international stage and we will prove that it’s possible to have a better world,” Lula told the US outlet.
One of the most popular Brazilian politicians ever, Lula was president from 2003 to 2010. He was sprung from prison just over a year ago, after the Brazilian Supreme Court annulled his 2018 conviction on corruption charges, finding a biased judge had compromised his right to a fair trial. A political showdown looms between him and current leader Jair Bolsonaro in October’s election, with Lula currently polling ahead of his incumbent rival by 14 points.