Explaining Brazil #183: Between Moscow and Washington

Washington has tried to get Brazil to condemn "Russia aggression" in Ukraine. But Bolsonaro has his reasons to keep a safe distance from the current geopolitical crisis

Tensions continue to mount in Eastern Europe amid the growing threat of an invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Washington is calling on its allies to condemn Moscow’s recent moves, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently urged Brazil to take a “strong response against Russian aggression.”

But the Jair Bolsonaro administration has not responded the way the White House hoped it would. And there are a few reasons for that.

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  • Lucas Berti is a journalist and Latin American expert, covering international affairs for The Brazilian Report. He writes the Latin America Weekly newsletter, alongside Buenos Aires correspondent Ignacio Portes.
  • André Spigariol covers Brazilian foreign policy, politics, and economics. He has been published by several media outlets in Latin America, including Crusoé, Spotniks, Congresso em Foco, La Tercera, CNN Chile, Radio Cooperativa, among others.

This episode used music from Uppbeat. License codes: XLORENHCKUPMGYSQ, ZNDSNF9GZQ2JQHG6, BQVAG4IVHQL4HV1H.

Background reading:

  • In a meeting with Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos França, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. wants Brazil to step up and put pressure on Russia against taking military action in Ukraine. André Spigariol shares the details of these talks.
  • When Latin American countries received their first vaccines, they didn’t get them from Western powers — but from China and Russia instead. But these deals often came with strings attached, as we explained in our Explaining Brazil Episode #150.
  • Russia is quietly making moves to enlarge its influence in Latin America, writes Lucas Berti. Growing investment has been matched more recently by vaccine diplomacy, while the U.S.’s attention has been drawn elsewhere.
  • Under pressure from China and agribusiness interests in Congress – and growing global concern over President Bolsonaro’s own behavior – Brazil does a foreign policy about-face.

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