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Putin welcomes Brazil leader for talks amid Ukraine crisis –

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday hosted his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro for talks in Moscow and hailed the ties between the two countries, which he described as consisting of “friendship and mutual understanding.” .

Bolsonaro’s first trip to Russia came at a time of soaring tensions between Moscow and the West, fueled by fears that Russia was planning to invade Ukraine, and he went ahead despite expressed doubts by Brazilian and US officials as to its timing.

The two leaders did not mention Ukraine or Russia’s demands for security guarantees preventing NATO’s eastward expansion during their opening remarks or the press conference after the talks.

Photos from their meeting in the Kremlin showed the presidents seated next to each other, with a small coffee table between them. Putin’s recent meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholtz featured a table several meters long, which Kremlin officials attributed to coronavirus precautions.

After the meeting, Putin told a press conference that he and Bolsonaro had “thorough and constructive discussions.”

“Russia and Brazil are traditionally united by relations of friendship and mutual understanding. The strategic partnership between our countries covers a variety of areas. We jointly strive to develop political, economic and humanitarian ties, we cooperate closely in the international arena,” Putin said.

Bolsonaro said the two countries “share common values, such as belief in God and the defense of the family. Also, we are in solidarity with all those countries that want and are committed to peace.

A joint Kremlin statement released after the talks said the two leaders “stressed their determination to strengthen the strategic partnership, deepen political dialogue, raise the level of bilateral relations based on respect for sovereignty, international law and shared principles of the rule of law”. by both countries.

Bolsonaro’s trip to Moscow had been planned since December, long before the Ukraine crisis erupted, and was aimed at strengthening trade ties with Russia, a key source of fertilizer for the South American agricultural powerhouse.

Two of his ministers told The Associated Press they had been trying to convince him to cancel it since last week. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Two senior Brazilian foreign ministry officials also told the AP they had received messages from US officials saying the timing of the trip reflected Brazilian indifference to invasion threats. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to lack of permission to speak publicly.

Bolsonaro’s former foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo, also criticized the trip on Tuesday.

“It is very problematic as a signal. We are siding with a tyrant who is intimidating an independent country that is Ukraine,” Araujo said in an interview with Jovem Pan radio station, adding that talks about Fertilizer supplies don’t require travel.”What we’re doing is getting into Putin’s game.”

As Bolsonaro’s plane entered Russian airspace on Tuesday, he tweeted about Russian military reports that it was withdrawing some of its troops near Ukraine. His supporters sang online that he had helped prevent armed conflict, then, as the patently false claim was verified, said it had always been a joke.

Brazilian cabinet ministers said members of the foreign and defense ministries advised Bolsonaro to avoid commenting on Ukraine and, if Putin raised the issue, to maintain neutrality and support dialogue.

Russia has sought to make inroads in the region that the United States has traditionally considered part of its sphere of influence. Its presence in Latin America has been limited since the 1990s and in recent years has mainly consisted of an alliance with Venezuela for the supply of armaments and energy projects, as well as with Nicaragua for armaments and the strengthening of emergency response capabilities. But Latin American arms purchases plunged as the commodity boom ended and Venezuela’s economy collapsed.

Moscow has helped Venezuela design a cryptocurrency, canceled billions of dollars in Cuban debt, and runs a high-tech anti-narcotics complex in Nicaragua that many believe is a secret beachhead for espionage in the region.

Argentinian President Alberto Fernández met his Russian counterpart earlier this month. The left-wing leader recently said he wanted his country “to become a gateway for Russia into Latin America, so that Russia intervenes more decisively.”

Putin and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega spoke by phone in January and congratulated him on winning his fourth consecutive term in November elections that the United States and the European Union condemned as a farce.

Bolsonaro’s meeting with Putin is one of the few high-level encounters the Brazilian president has secured abroad since taking office in January 2019. A staunch supporter of former US President Donald Trump, Bolsonaro has not yet to receive a call from Joe Biden, whose victory in the 2020 election he was slow to acknowledge.

While in Russia, Bolsonaro also visited the lower house of the Russian parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Before returning to Brazil, he will visit Hungary and meet one of his few international allies, Prime Minister Viktor Orban.


Savarese reported from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Débora Álvares in Brasilia contributed to this.