President Jair Bolsonaro and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have a list of things in common. From homophobic statements to authoritarian leanings, passing through their shared air of being untouchable. But with Mr. Bolsonaro largely looking toward friendship with the U.S., the idea of getting close to Vladimir Putin has never been on the table.
But it was a case of love at first share this week, when the Brazilian president posted a video on social media in which Mr. Putin praises Mr. Bolsonaro for his “masculine qualities.”
The post came in for severe ribbing online. Having formed a large part of his political persona on being “anti-communist,” to see Mr. Bolsonaro sidling up to a former officer of the KGB was incoherent at the very least. But, as it turns out, Brazil’s president is a sucker for a compliment.
Behind the celebration of his own perceived virility, Mr. Bolsonaro’s favorable gestures toward Vladimir Putin may be underpinned by geopolitical strategy. Having put all of his eggs into one basket by declaring his love for outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump, Mr. Bolsonaro is now set to lose the most prominent enabler of his inflammatory platforms on the world stage.
The post Trump era is shaping up to be one of slim pickings for Brazil’s diplomatic alliances, as President-elect Joe Biden — along with the leaders of Germany and France — have been vocal in their criticism of Mr. Bolsonaro’s handling of the Amazon deforestation crisis.
Perhaps, then, Vladimir Putin could be the safe harbor Mr. Bolsonaro so desperately needs.
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