Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently finished an official tour of Latin America that saw him make stops in Brazil, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba. The trip is in an effort to establish stronger political and economic relationships with Latin American countries.
On Monday, April 17th, he made his first stop in Brazil where he met with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and some members of the country’s administration. Lavrov arrived in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, to engage in discussions regarding trade and the war between Russia and Ukraine. Lavrov praised President Lula’s comments regarding the United State’s role in the conflict. While on an official visit to China, President Lula claimed that the U.S. was playing an active role in the continuation of the conflict, sentiments that have been criticized in the U.S. and Europe. White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby has referred to Lula’s comments as “simply misguided.” Lula also claimed the war was caused by both Ukraine and Russia, a notion that was rejected by Ukraine. A spokesperson from the Ukraine Foreign Ministry said they would continue to monitor Lula’s efforts to broker a peace deal while also criticizing the Brazilian government for placing “the victim and the aggressor” on equal footing. On Tuesday, April 18th, Lula once more called for a peace deal to be brokered, condemning Russia for what he called the “violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.”
Brazil’s Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira said that the meeting between President Lula and Lavrov focused more on finding a peaceful solution to the Ukraine and Russian war. While Brazil has been depicted as having chosen a side, Vieira said the country seeks peace and is willing to explore the idea of a group of countries coming together to work towards finding a peaceful solution to the conflict. “We are grateful to our Brazilian friends for their clear understanding of the genesis of the situation [in Ukraine]. We are grateful for their desire to contribute to finding ways of settling this situation,” Lavrov said.
Lavrov had a meeting with Brazilian Foreign Minister Vieira. They reportedly discussed a plan to have Brazil increase its meat exports to Russia, while Russia would increase Brazil’s fertilizer imports to boost agricultural output. Brazil is an agricultural powerhouse whose success depends on the fertilizer coming from Russia. According to Agencia Brasil, in 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ensured that Brazil received an uninterrupted supply of fertilizer.
The two countries share a successful trade relationship, with their bilateral dealings bringing in $9.8 billion in 2022. “This was the volume that had been set as a goal when the high-level commission [between the two countries] was established 12 years ago,” Minister Vieira said, referring to the figures reached in trade between the two countries.
Lavrov criticized the U.S. and European sanctions placed on Russia, with Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez sharing the same sentiments. She noted that the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela had caused nearly $232 billion in government financial losses. According to reports, 929 sanctions have been imposed on Venezuela since 2015, with Vice President Rodríguez saying 60% were by the U.S., essentially enacting an “economic war” against Venezuelans as many struggle to live under the conditions created by the sanctions.
Latin American leaders who met with Lavrov notably voiced opposition in regard to the actions of the U.S. and NATO in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Nicaraguan and Cuban leaders criticized the intervention by the U.S. military and U.S.-led military organizations in Ukraine.
Leaders saw the official visit by Foreign Minister Lavrov as a great opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations between Latin American nations and Russia, opening channels for trade and investment. Eduardo Regalado, Senior Researcher at the International Policy Research Center of Cuba, said, “I believe Lavrov’s visit will further deepen the cooperation between Russia and Latin American countries, and will contribute to the development of a multipolar world, a world free from hegemony and sanctions.”