In addition to the British Foreign Minister, the President of the EU Council, the President of Ukraine and the German Chancellor recently visited various countries in Latin America. There they want to convince the heads of government to position themselves against Russia and to deliver weapons to Ukraine. Next, the EU Commission President and the German Foreign Minister try their luck.
By Felicitas Rabe
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly visited Brazil on Wednesday at the end of a week-long trip to Latin America. He had previously held important diplomatic talks in Colombia and Chile. Officially, it was about bilateral trade and cooperation between Great Britain and Latin America on energy and environmental issues. However, government officials from two of the countries he visited said Cleverly also wanted to discuss their respective stances on Russia and China.
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High-ranking diplomats from the major European nations and institutions are currently trying to win neutral-minded Latin American countries over to their side with a “charm offensive” in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The political magazine published this political analysis on Wednesday.
As part of a broader geopolitical struggle with Russia and China, Europe’s strategy is to win over countries in Latin America “to their cause”. The British Foreign Secretary had already announced a comprehensive diplomatic initiative in this regard in December. One wants to win nations that “often describe themselves as ‘non-aligned'”.
In addition to the goal of convincing the Latin American heads of government to give up their neutrality in the Ukraine conflict, there are also very tangible practical interests. political According to Ukraine’s political allies, they are scouring the world “in search of key minerals for high-tech supply chains, as well as ammunition and weapons to retake Russian-occupied territories.” After all, Chile and Brazil had hundreds of German-made Leopard tanks. In Colombia and Brazil there is also military equipment made by Russia, such as MiG transport helicopters and anti-tank missiles.
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In a speech at the G7 summit on Sunday, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky attempted to motivate Brazil to provide support. While the country has condemned the Russian operation in Ukraine, it has declined to provide military assistance or sanction Russia. Across from political a Brazilian official has ruled out further support for Kiev. When asked, a Chilean official also ruled out that Great Britain could persuade Chile to provide military aid to Ukraine:
“It’s not going to happen, not at all. … This is an issue for the great powers to solve, not something we can do from the ends of the world.”
In his speech in Santiago on Monday, the British Foreign Secretary tried to tie Latin American governments more closely to the West with special offers. The region deserves a bigger say on the international stage, he said. He also wants to work to ensure that Brazil gets a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council:
“The multilateral institutions of our world need to be reformed, especially to give Latin America more say and influence.”
The European Union has also made corresponding advances in recent months. For example, EU Council President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Latin America. Michel, in particular, fears that some countries in the so-called Global South are too friendly towards Russia. Brazilian President Lula da Silva has already rejected Scholz’s request. His country has “no interest in handing over ammunition that can be used in the war between Ukraine and Russia”.
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Next, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is due to travel to Brazil in early June to call on Lula, among other things, to condemn Russia and support Ukraine. political Germany remains one of the main drivers behind the push for closer ties with Latin America. The planned EU agreement with the Mercosur alliance, to which some Latin American countries belong, is also a top priority for Germany. In the second week of June, EU President Ursula von der Leyen will travel to Chile, Brazil and Argentina specifically for this purpose.
For Cleverly, one of the most sensitive questions is how to deal with China in the context of the Latin America strategy. Beijing is still the largest trading partner of both Brazil and Chile. None of the left-leaning Latin American governments want to be forced to choose between trade with China or the US.
According to a Chilean government official, the British foreign secretary offered too little to convince his country. You are “disappointed”. “If you want to compete with China, you have to pay. You have to offer something in return,” the official said. “I would have expected more concrete commitments – but they were not recognizable.”
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