Bolsonaro to visit Russia despite Ukraine crisis

Published : 28 Jan 2022 09:16 PM

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday he will visit Russia next month, amid Moscow's diplomatic standoff with the West which accuses it of preparing an invasion of Ukraine.

 The visit "is planned for the end of February," the far-right leader told supporters outside the presidential residence in Brasilia.

"Better understandings, better commercial relationships," he said of the goal of the trip. Relations between Russia and the West have reached their lowest point since the Cold War after Moscow deployed tens of thousands of troops on the border of Ukraine.

Russia denies any plans to invade but last month demanded wide-ranging security guarantees from the West, including that Ukraine never be allowed to join the US-led NATO military alliance.

 Bolsonaro, too, has seen ties with the United States become frostier since the departure a year ago of his political role model, Donald Trump, from the White House.

 The presidency in Brasilia told AFP that no dates or agenda have been finalized for the trip which, according to local media, will include a stopover in Hungary at the invitation of nationalist leader Viktor Orban, a Bolsonaro ally.

On Monday, Brazil's Vice President Hamilton Mourao had said the Russian visit could be canceled in light of the diplomatic crisis over Ukraine.

Bolsonaro said in December that he had accepted an invitation from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 On January 19, he said he was aware of the situation between Russia and Ukraine, adding his visit did not seek to encourage "animosity" but to discuss trade.

"The invitation came from them, and if we accept it is because we have interests," the Brazilian leader said.

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