Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. (AP)

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. (AP)


Cecilia Tornaghi on Monocle Podcast: Global Swing States, Can the West Win Them Over?

By Andrew Mueller

"[Lula] sees that Brazil should have a much stronger place and position in the global stage," says the AS/COA senior director.

AS/COA Senior Director and Americas Quarterly managing editor Cecilia Tornaghi spoke to Monocle's Andrew Mueller on the The Foreign Desk podcast about the position of Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Russia's war in Ukraine. Mueller said that the war "has galvanized western alliances" but there are countries, like Brazil, that feel "no imperative to come down on either side."

Tornaghi said that Lula and Russia's President Vladimir Putin have had a long-term relationship, that predates to the invasion of Ukraine.

"His position is basically we need to talk to both sides. 'If you want to reach peace. You can't join one side at war because you won't be able to reach anything if you don't have a dialogue line'. Okay, makes sense. But you have to remember that Brazil, in terms of a direct relationship, had a Lula-Putin relationship prior to this. And Brazil does depend on the fertilizers that come from Russia," said Tornaghi. "With Bolsonaro, there was mostly an economic take on the need of fertilizers; it was sort of like the main driver of the relationship. But with Lula, you had to add on his prior connection. So it's not completely out of character for him to try to be the negotiator here or the peace bringer."

Lula sees the war as a waste of time, people, and money, said Tornaghi. "So he has this sort of like magnanimous view of peace. 'I can do this'. He was... that during his first two terms, he was sort of like a rock star, a darling of the international community, so he might have thought right coming into it that he could still bank on that and actually be the reason in the room and bring everybody together. This has proven way more difficult than I think he even thought," said Tornaghi.

Lula is one of the first Brazilian presidents that actually decided that Brazil should be a big player in the international scenario, added Tornaghi. "He sees that Brazil should have a much stronger place and position in the global stage. He has been fighting for it for a while and at the UN, and pushing it to negotiate and talk to everybody about that restructuring, reforming the UN, especially the Security Council. So he does have that view that Brazil has a role to play. Also, he is not going to take sides on China and on US. Absolutely not. Brazil needs both, it trades with both. So he will keep the neutrality there as well."

Listen to the interview.