Explaining Brazil #188: Brazil depends on Russia’s fertilizer faucet

President Bolsonaro declared Brazil would be "neutral" in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, mentioning a crucial facet of the war for Brazilian interests: fertilizers

Depending on the angle you use to look at how Brazil has reacted to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, one could argue that Brazil is simultaneously on the side of the Russians, neutral, and opposed to the conflict. While Western nations were quick to condemn Putin, and even Switzerland has abandoned neutrality, the Brazilian government dithered somewhat on whether to call out Russia. In the space of a few days, Brazil signed off on a UN resolution denouncing the invasion, before President Bolsonaro declared the country would be “neutral” in the conflict, mentioning a crucial facet of the war for Brazilian interests: fertilizers.

Listen and subscribe to our podcast from your mobile device:

Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Deezer


  • 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: GB9VAWEVA3UJX4FQ, RJBPUTYKFHVIDCOS, PLSLJ8E4UFYOLBM8.

Background reading:

  • Brazilian diplomacy actively lobbied at the United Nations for a softer stance from the West against Russia. Brazilian representatives to the UN negotiated to remove stronger terms from a Security Council resolution denouncing the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They also wanted the resolution to reflect the narrative that both Ukraine and Russia failed to abide by the Minsk agreements — the ceasefire accord between both countries signed in 2014 and 2015 after the annexation of Crimea. 
  • Listen to episode #183, “Between Moscow and Washington.” Reporters Lucas Berti and André Spigariol talk to editor-in-chief Gustavo Ribeiro about how Jair Bolsonaro hesitated between supporting Russia and the U.S. in the moments leading up to the invasion of Ukraine.
  • Listen to episode #184, “Brazil’s risk of imported inflation.” We talked to risk analyst Mário Braga of consultancy Control Risks about the implications of a war between Russia and Ukraine. Our analysis has been confirmed — with oil, corn, and wheat prices reaching their highest point in a decade.
  • With the government facing criticism for its reluctance to take a stronger stand against Russia, we looked at the history of Brazil’s UN voting patterns throughout the years, noting some significant changes under the Bolsonaro administration.
  • Carlos Guimarães Filho goes in-depth to explain how Brazil’s fertilizers and food prices will be affected by the war in Ukraine.

Do you have a suggestion for our next Explaining Brazil podcast? Drop us a line at [email protected]

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.