Lula’s third way, an option to build peace in Ukraine

The Brazilian President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silvapoints to the root of the problem: the war in ukraine must be stopped and, once the weapons fall silent, seek a political solution to the conflict between kyiv and Moscow.

“Without a ceasefire it is impossible to continue,” Lula da Silva said this Wednesday before the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, who has insisted that Russia is the aggressor and Ukraine is the one attacked in this conflict. The meeting has shown the insurmountable difference between the European and Brazilian positions on the war in Ukraine.

the brazilian president condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukrainebut also rejects the European option of leaving Moscow out of the equation, especially since both Europe and the United States have their own responsibility in igniting the conflict. And this is not liked in Europe. Neither in Spain.

Lula has said it on this European tour that has taken him to Portugal and Spain, and which will continue in France: “We condemn the violation of rights by Russia, but it is useless to see who is right or wrong. We must stop the war. You can only talk when the war stops,” said Lula da Silva.

The need to listen to Lula

In Madrid, Lula has insisted that it is necessary “try to find a common denominator to reach peace”with a movement of neutral countries committed to promoting negotiations and, thus, avoiding a third world war that could lead to the crisis in Ukraine.

Lula’s international commitment and his mediation in Ukraine have been underlined by the former president of the Spanish Government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who in an opinion article for the newspaper El País, has indicated the need to “listen” to the Brazilian head of state, with whom he coincided in his years in office.

“Lula’s peace proposal therefore deserves to be heard. The international weight and the strategic position of Brazil thus advise it. Its distance from a war in Europe is only geographical, not political or strategic. Precisely because this commitment to the global order responds to convictions, it transcends the pure and simple interest of the country,” explains Zapatero.

For Lula, the key is to promote peace from an international forum of countries interested in ending the war instead of continuing to arm Ukraine, as the United States and European countries, including Spain, are doing.

In Portugal, the previous leg of his European trip, Lula had already launched a worrying appeal to the parties involved, not only to Ukraine and Russia, but also to the Western countries that support the conflict with money and weapons: “Stop while there’s time”he demanded, “the war should not have started. Russia should not have invaded, but it did invade. Now, instead of choosing a side, I want to choose a third way, the reconstruction of peace.”

That is why Lula stresses the need to “construct a narrative that convinces (Vladimir) Putin and (Volodimir) Zelenski that war is not the best way to solve problems.” But also, Lula points out, alluding to those who are pulling many of the strings of the war, “NATO, the United States and the European Union must start talking about peace and discuss the issue.”

According to Lula da Silva, the war began “without there being any negotiations to avoid it”, with everyone involved looking out for their own interests. That is why now “an intervention of friendly countries is needed that can seat the participants to talk and stop attacking,” she adds.

Lula’s special envoy will travel to kyiv

Brazil does not want to “align itself with the war” but rather “align itself with a group of countries that work to build peace”, that “G20 of peace”, Lula stated on this tour. For this reason, he added, his country does not sell weapons to Ukraine or to the states that are helping Ukraine or Russia.

Lula’s hope is centered on the emerging countries, perhaps led by the so-called BRICS, which include Brazil itself, Russia (discardable as it is a direct part of the conflict), India, China and South Africa.

In this diplomatic offensive in favor of peace, Lula will send to kyiv his special adviser for International Affairs, Celso Amorim, to meet with President Zelenski and probe the possibilities of the peace process promoted by Brazil. Amorim has already been in Moscow, where his diplomatic work is appreciated, twice as Foreign Minister of his country.

Lula will not travel to the capitals of the two countries at war until some minimum conditions are met for a political solution to the conflict.

Discrepancies with Sánchez

Lula da Silva’s visit to Madrid has revealed the differences that separate him from European countries. Both the Brazilian leader and his host, the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sanchez, have stressed the need for an end to the Ukrainian conflict. But that’s where the common ground ends.

Sanchezlike the rest of his colleagues in the European Union and NATO, defends tooth and nail Zelensky’s “peace plan”which demands the complete Russian withdrawal from the occupied territories, including the Crimea illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014. The Kremlin considers this peninsula to be Russia’s inalienable territory and will never accept its separation from the Russian Federation.

Nor will Moscow accept in any case sitting at a dialogue table that includes as one of Kiev’s main objectives the prosecution of the Russian authorities for war crimes or the establishment of war reparations, which would imply acknowledging defeat.

Right now it is the countries allied with Ukraine, who are most enthusiastically betting on Russia’s defeat on the battlefield. A defeat that is unlikely to occur, given the military capacity of Russia, a nuclear power equipped with a couple of thousand atomic weapons and whose security doctrine includes the use of this weapon to preserve the integrity of its national territory, Crimea included .

On April 7, Lula da Silva unleashed the ire of Ukraine and its European allies when he stated that “Zelenski cannot want everything either”, alluding to Crimea and Donbas. The Brazilian president points out that the war must first be stopped and then the fate of these regions must be negotiated. With claims, yes, but also with transfers, even if they are painful.

Pending the Ukrainian counteroffensive

Ukraine is expected to launch a major counter-offensive in the coming months, perhaps weeks, with Western support in terms of weapons, logistics and even special forces on the ground, as the Pentagon papers leaked last March implied.

But there is nothing to indicate for sure that this Ukrainian counter-offensive is going to have a resounding success that subdues Russia and forces it to accept the points of Zelensky’s peace plan. Not much less. The Russian army has strengthened itself in recent months to the east and south of the front linealmost unchanged since the end of last year.

Western propaganda about this counter-offensive talks about the numerous tanks, anti-missile systems and rocket launchers donated to the Ukrainian army, the tons and tons of ammunition for mobile artillery and aircraft inherited from the USSR delivered to Ukraine by old Warsaw Pact comrades.

But little is said about mass movement of Russian units towards the borders of Russia with the occupied territoriesthe displacement of squadrons of the latest generation Russian aircraft and the missiles that the Kremlin shuttles are stopping firing against Ukrainian cities, because they are reserving themselves to face the imminent counter-offensive.

Lula and Xi Jinping lead the bid for the ceasefire

At such critical moments in the war, Lula’s initiative should sound reasonable, especially since it is close to other peace plans launched by countries with notable international weight, such as China.

Beijing released its own twelve-point peace plan on the occasion of the first year of the war, on February 24. But, like the Brazilian proposal, the Chinese bet has been rejected by the West, which considers it to be directed towards Moscow, Beijing’s strategic partner. Although China has defended the inviolability of territorial sovereignty, it has not condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has called for the withdrawal of international sanctions against Moscow.

Last March, the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, visited Moscow and stressed the importance of the strategic partnership with Russia, but did not back the Kremlin for the invasion of Ukraine. He has not supplied weapons to Russia either.

Now, a month later, Xi Jinping has called Zelensky by phone. And Xi has come to repeat Lula’s message: the only way out is through dialogue and negotiation. Zelensky has responded that there can be no peace if Ukraine does not first recover all the territory it had when it gained independence from the USSR in 1991, which is equivalent to the recovery of Crimea, the jewel in the crown.

Diplomatic proposals accelerate around the Ukraine war, but the swords are still high. Neither of the two parties will take a step towards dialogue until the weapons offer their latest version.

But Lula already said it in Portugal: “Whoever believes in military solutions to current problems fights against the winds of history.”

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