Presidente da República Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is keen to discuss 'the future' with regard to Ukraine, and Brazil's position now that President Lula da Silva is in command. Image: PEDRO SARMENTO COSTA/LUSA

Marcelo meets Ukraine’s deputy PM in Brazil to ‘prepare future’

… as Russian president Putin extends invitation to country’s new leader

President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, received the deputy prime minister of Ukraine at the Portuguese embassy in Brasilia yesterday “at a time he considered propitious for exchanges of views, and to prepare for the future, writes Lusa.

The meeting with Iryna Verenshchuk took place on the eve of the inauguration today of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as Brazil’s new president.

Marcelo’s meeting “lasted about an hour”, and at the end he made statements to journalists, accompanied by Portugal’s foreign minister, João Gomes Cravinho, and the Portuguese ambassador in Brazil, Luís Faro Ramos.

According to Lusa, Portugal’s head of State “highlighted the importance of positions previously taken in Brazil regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine” – possibly referring to both the former president Bolsonaro’s declared “solidarity with Russia”, and to Lula da Silva’s own opinions.

During the presidential campaign, Lula da Silva showed he had very different views to those largely expressed by the West. He accused the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy of having “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 (the war). You have to stimulate an agreement, but there is an encouragement (to confrontation).

“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,” da Silva said on another occasion.

And then there was: “Biden could say: ‘Let’s talk some more. We don’t want Ukraine in NATO, period. It’s not a concession.'”

Months ago, da Silva said that if he won the Brazilian presidency, he intended 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, ” he said.

So this is an extremely sensitive moment; which is possibly why Marcelo told reporters: “I wouldn’t get stuck on what the positions were two months ago, three months ago, four months ago…”

What is important now “is not exactly the conversation of the past” but rather the “process of facing the future and preparing for the future”, he insisted.

“What economic and social relations between the rest of the world and Europe, and Ukraine in particular, will look like; what political and diplomatic relations will look like, how to prepare what we all want: a solution that respects the principles of international law, but guarantees peace and security as sustainably as possible in the future”.

According to Rebelo de Sousa, Lula da Silva “has always been very careful to show openness and flexibility of dialogue, of conversation to prepare that future”.

“And Brazil has an important position” in this process, he added.

Just how important was outlined by Russian senator Valentina Matviyenko who attended the inauguration today with a delegation from Russia.

She told Russian news agency TASS – cited by Spanish news agency Efe – that Russia sees the fact that it is participating in today’s events in Brazil  as “a sign of respect, and a sign that Russia is interested in continuing to develop actively relations” with the South American country.