Latin American Leaders React to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
Latin American Leaders React to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
See what has been said by countries like UN Security Council members Brazil and Mexico, as well as Moscow allies Cuba and Venezuela.
Tensions between Russia and Ukraine boiled over into violence early on February 24 when Moscow invaded its neighbor, shelling cities, airports, and military bases across the country. Within hours of the initial attacks, presidents and foreign ministries across the Western Hemisphere began to react. Russia’s relationship with Latin America varies by country, and recent diplomatic meetings between leaders alongside large-scale shipments of Sputnik V vaccines have helped shore up Moscow’s position in some parts of the region.
Below, AS/COA Online tracks the notable responses from Latin America’s leaders to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
This article was originally published on February 24, 2022, and has since been updated
In a Twitter thread on February 24, President Alberto Fernández said he "profoundly lament[ed]" the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine and called on Russia to end its incursion. Both opposition lawmakers and the Ukrainian Embassy in Buenos Aires have called on Fernández to take a stronger stance against Moscow.
Hacemos un llamado a todas las partes a no usar la fuerza militar.
Pedimos a la Federación de Rusia que ponga fin a las acciones emprendidas y que todas las partes involucradas vuelvan a la mesa del diálogo.
— Alberto Fernández (@alferdez) February 24, 2022
The night before, Argentina's foreign ministry tweeted “a firm call for peace” in Ukraine in a statement from the foreign ministry that expressed its “respect for the sovereignty of states.” While the ministry’s statement and a separate one from the presidential spokesperson refrained from mentioning Russia explicitly,Argentina’s Mission to the UN did directly call for “the Russian Federation to cease military actions in Ukraine.”
At the UN Human Rights Council on February 28, Minister of Foreign Affairs Santiago Cafiero called for Russia to “immediately cease the use of force.”
A week after his visit to Moscow for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is maintaining neutrality in the conflict. During a February 27 press conference, he stated, “We are not going to take sides. We are going to continue to be neutral and help however possible to find a solution.” He noted Brazil’s ties to Russian oil and fertilizers. “Peace is the best option to avoid price spikes,” he said.
However, Brazil’s Foreign Ministry, especially through its mission to the UN, has proffered a tougher position against Russia. On February 24, the Ministry expressed its “grave concern for the outbreak of military operations by the Russian Federation against targets in the territory of Ukraine.”
At the UN Security Council, where Brazil is one of two Latin American non-permanent members, Brazil’s representative to the UN, Ronaldo Costa, expressed Brazil’s position on the conflict as “strongly condemning the violation of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.” On February 25, Brazil was one of 11 of the Council’s 15 members to vote on a U.S.-authored resolution to condemn Russia. As the 193-member UN General Assembly debated voting on the resolution, Costa noted that states must be “cautious moving forward in the General Assembly” as actions can impact Brazilian access to fertilizer and wheat.
On March 1, Brazil’s representative—alongside those of Bolivia, Brazil, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Venezuela—did not walk out of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s speech at the UN General Assembly.
Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is leading in the polls for Brazil’s 2022 presidential election, condemned Bolsonaro’s Russia visit and said “it's very unfortunate” that countries are still resorting to war in the twenty-first century. But Lula’s political party, the Workers’ Party, posted a tweet on February 24 “condemn[ing] the U.S.'s long-term policy of aggression against Russia and of continuous expansion of NATO toward Russian borders.” The tweet has since been deleted.
Brazil was one of the 58 countries that chose to abstain in the vote to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council in the UN General Assembly meeting on April 7. The country’s foreign ministry claimed that suspension would cause “polarization and politicization of debates” within the Council.
Both outgoing Chilean President Sebastian Piñera and president-elect Gabriel Boric, who takes office in less than a month, condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the morning of February 24 via Twitter. Piñera said Moscow's actions violated international law, while Boric similarly called out Russia for its “illegitimate” use of force.
Chile condemns Russia's act of aggression and violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. These actions violate international law and threaten innocent lives and international peace and security.
— Sebastian Piñera (@sebastianpinera) February 24, 2022
Rusia ha optado por la guerra como medio para resolver conflictos. Desde Chile condenamos la invasión a Ucrania, la violación de su soberanía y el uso ilegitimo de la fuerza. Nuestra solidaridad estará con las víctimas y nuestros humildes esfuerzos con la paz.
— Gabriel Boric Font (@gabrielboric) February 24, 2022
President Iván Duque “categorically rejected” Russia’s attack early February 24, saying it “threatens not only [Ukrainian] sovereignty but also world peace.” He also called for the “immediate withdrawal” of Russian troops from Ukraine.
Colombia rechaza categóricamente el ataque premeditado e injustificado que se ha perpetrado contra el pueblo ucraniano por parte de Rusia, que no solo atenta contra su soberanía sino amenaza a la paz mundial. pic.twitter.com/1IbJcPsIiR
— Iván Duque 🇨🇴 (@IvanDuque) February 24, 2022
Colombia rechaza de manera categórica los ataques contra Ucrania por parte de Rusia. Estos hechos atentan contra la soberanía de Ucrania y ponen en riesgo la vida de miles de personas, en una incuestionable situación contraria al Derecho Internacional y la carta de la @ONU_es.
— Iván Duque 🇨🇴 (@IvanDuque) February 24, 2022
Since the invasion, Duque has remained consistent of his condemnation. In an interview on April 9, he affirmed that Colombia will cease diplomatic relations with Russia in the near future in response to its “genocide” of the Ukrainian citizens.
One of Moscow’s closest allies in the hemisphere, Cuba, through its foreign ministry, criticized the United States, claiming Washington exacerbated the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and is “manipulating the international community.” The statement also calls for “constructive and respectful dialogue” as a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Cuba’s foreign minister sent a tweet quoting the statement, restating that Russia “has the right to defend itself.”
We call on the US and NATO to seriously & realistically heed the well-founded demands for security guarantees by Russia, which has the right to defend itself.#Cuba calls for a diplomatic solution through constructive & respectful dialogue.
— Bruno Rodríguez P (@BrunoRguezP) February 23, 2022
On February 23, Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the lower house of Russia’s parliament, paid an official visit to Cuba to strengthen bilateral ties. During his visit, he echoed Havana’s criticism of the United States, claiming that its use of sanctions on both Russia and Cuba is a form of suppression.
Cuba—alongside Moscow allies Nicaragua and Venezuela—may be vulnerable to the effect of global sanctions against Russia, as the three countries rely on Russia’s financial system to evade U.S. sanctions.
Regarding Havana’s April 7 vote against suspending Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, representative Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta said that doing so would “establish a dangerous precedent.”
President Guillermo Lasso on February 24 “condemned” Russia's military operations and the "violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” "Innocent lives are in jeopardy,” he added in a thread.
Están en juego vidas inocentes. Exhortamos a las partes a observar el Derecho Internacional Humanitario y a asegurar la seguridad y necesidades de los civiles. De nuestro lado, estamos trabajando para brindar apoyo a los más de 700 ecuatorianos que se encuentran en Ucrania.
— Guillermo Lasso (@LassoGuillermo) February 24, 2022
President Nayib Bukele has yet to comment on the situation in Ukraine, despite much domestic criticism. Instead, he tweeted about Bitcoin.
The intrinsic value of #Bitcoin is now in full display on the whole world.
— Nayib Bukele 🇸🇻 (@nayibbukele) March 1, 2022
As the invasion continues, El Salvador’s Bitcoin development is complicated by the conflict and sanctions placed on Russian bond markets. Bukele’s government was set to issue a $1 billion crypto-backed bond in the month of February, but the country’s Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya says that the international conflict has caused a “timing issue,” and that he “didn't expect the war in Ukraine.” Bukele has yet to announce when the bond will be issued.
Guatemala, a recipient of Sputnik V vaccines, “emphatically condemned” Russia’s annexation of regions of Ukraine on Tuesday through a statement from its foreign ministry. Additionally, the foreign minister called for a ceasefire.
Since the invasion, President Alejandro Giammattei has welcomed Ukrainian families seeking refuge to Guatemala, which he reaffirmed in a tweet to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, declaring that the two countries will always stand together.
The foreign ministry in Tegucigalpa, under the leadership of recently inaugurated President Xiomara Castro, called for a “negotiated exit” to end the conflict. Russia was not directly named.
Honduras was one of a few countries whose UN representative did not walk out of the Russian foreign minister's speech at the UN General Assembly.
In his daily morning press conference on February 24, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador committed Mexico to “promot[ing] dialogue” and called for Russia “not to invade,” even though it already had. Prior to the invasion, he had not called out Russia for its aggression by name but rather deferred to the position Mexico established at the UN Security Council on February 22, where along with Brazil it is the other Latin American non-permanent member. There, the council called for “respect for the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the search for a solution through diplomatic channels.” Mexico’s foreign policy under AMLO has been guided by what is known as theEstrada Doctrine, which commits the country to non-intervention and respect for state sovereignty. In this light, AMLO said Mexico would not impose sanctions.
Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said on February 24 that Mexico “rejects the use of force” and “reiterates its call for a political exit to the conflict in Ukraine” but did not name Russia as the aggressor.
México rechaza el uso de la fuerza,reitera su llamado a una salida política al conflicto en Ucrania y respalda al Secretario General de la ONU en pro de la paz. Trabajamos con otros países para encontrar un espacio de diálogo.
— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) February 24, 2022
At the Security Council, Mexico’s representative stated that “Mexico will strongly condemn the invasion of which Ukraine has been a victim.” Subsequently, the country voted for the U.S. resolution to condemn the invasion on February 25.
Ebrard authored his own proposal for the UNGA’s Emergency Special Session on Ukraine. The proposal includes the “immediate cessation of hostilities in Ukraine,” and the “establishment of diplomatic space to resolve conflict and the start of humanitarian Aid.”
México planteará hoy en la Asamblea General de la ONU el cese inmediato de las hostilidades en Ucrania, el establecimiento del espacio diplomático para resolver el conflicto y el inicio de la Ayuda Humanitaria encabezada por la ONU para proteger a la población civil.
— Marcelo Ebrard C. (@m_ebrard) February 28, 2022
During the April 7 UN General Assembly vote, Mexico’s Representative to the UN Juan Ramón de la Fuente defended his country’s decision to abstain, saying “multilateralism is strengthened through inclusion, not exclusion.” Obrador had voiced this sentiment ahead of the vote in his daily press conference.
Managua, another Moscow ally, was one of the first countries to support Russia’s annexation of portions of eastern Ukraine on February 21. Regarding the possibility that Ukraine joins NATO, President Daniel Ortega said on Monday, “Russia is simply defending itself.”
President Pedro Castillo made a broad call for unity and dialogue in a speech on February 25.
Peru’s Foreign Ministry has taken a more definitive stance against Russia. On February 28 at the UN Human Rights Council, Foreign Affairs Minister César Landa condemned Russia’s attacks on Ukraine. This followed a February 24 statement released by Peru’s foreign ministry calling Russia’s actions a “violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity.” In a tweet, the Foreign Ministry called for a ceasefire.
El Perú manifiesta su profunda preocupación por la evolución de los acontecimientos en Ucrania, rechaza el uso de la fuerza y reitera su llamado a cesar todas las hostilidades y violaciones al alto al fuego en Ucrania.
— Cancillería Perú🇵🇪 (@CancilleriaPeru) February 24, 2022
Caracas is one of Moscow’s strongest allies in the region, as the countries collaborate on oil, military, and financial systems. Venezuela’s de facto leader Nicolás Maduro expressed “all his support” for Putin and Russia in a tweet on Wednesday, adding, “Russia will come out of this united and victorious in this battle.” He also called Ukrainian fighters “Nazism glorified as Ukrainian resistance.”
Desde Venezuela repudiamos los planes perversos que pretenden rodear militar y estratégicamente a Rusia. Todo el apoyo al Presidente Putin y a su pueblo. Estamos seguros que Rusia saldrá unida y victoriosa de esta batalla, con la admiración de los pueblos valientes del mundo. pic.twitter.com/tJaWOVr8II
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) February 23, 2022
Maduro’s foreign minister called out the “warmongering pretensions” of NATO and the United States.
Venezuela may end up being the country in the region that most feels the effects of global sanctions against Russia. Not only does it rely on Russian banks to do business in key sectors like oil, it is thought Venezuela keeps reserves in rubles– the Russian currency, which has collapsed in value.
As an ally, it is likely that Venezuela would have voted against the suspension of Russia from the Human Rights Council, however Caracas has lost its U.N. voting rights because of unpaid dues.