Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva rejected Chancellor Olaf Scholz's request for tank ammunition for Ukraine and instead advocated a peace initiative.
"Brazil is a country of peace. And that's why Brazil doesn't want any involvement in this war - not even indirectly," said Lula during the Chancellor's visit to Brasília on the German request for ammunition for the Cheetah anti-aircraft tanks used by Ukraine. Instead, at a joint press conference on Monday evening, he brought up Brazil and China as mediators between Russia and Ukraine. "I propose forming a club of countries that want to create peace on this planet."
Scholz stressed that there could be no peace over the heads of the Ukrainians and that the country should not lose any territory as a result of the war. At the end of his four-day trip to South America, he once again defended his strategy of supporting Ukraine with weapons on Tuesday. "This war of aggression, this imperialist war must not succeed," he said. Scholz had also visited Chile and Argentina before Brazil. All three countries do not want to supply their own weapons to Ukraine.
Ukraine rejects negotiations in the current situation
Ukraine refuses to negotiate until Russian troops have completely withdrawn from Ukrainian territory, including Crimea. After the announcement by Germany and other Western countries that they would be supplying main battle tanks to Ukraine, the Russian leadership also backed away from the idea of peace talks.
The federal government has been trying to get the Brazilian ammunition for the Cheetah tanks since April 2022. At that time, it was hoped for up to 300,000 rounds. Germany has delivered 30 Gepard anti-aircraft tanks to Ukraine and has pledged seven more. However, the ammunition for this is scarce, although a new factory of the armaments company Rheinmetall for the production of supplies is currently being built in Lower Saxony. However, production is not scheduled to begin until June. Nothing will come of a transitional supply from Brazil.
Lula blames Ukraine for the war
Lula made it clear that, unlike Ukraine and its western allies, he relies on negotiations rather than arms deliveries. He has already spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron about his peace initiative and wants to present it to US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The left-wing politician once again blamed Ukraine for the Russian war of aggression. Russia has "made the classic mistake of invading another country's territory," he said. "But I still think: 'If one doesn't want to, two don't argue.'"
As early as May 2022, Lula said in an interview with Time magazine about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy: "This guy is just as responsible for the war as Putin." In a written statement, Scholz and Lula condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine and the illegal annexation of territory in the east and south of the country. The chancellor said he would continue to do his best to ensure that this view of the Ukraine war prevails in the world.
Scholz as the first head of government with the new president
Scholz was the first head of government to visit Lula since he was sworn in on January 1st. The 77-year-old, who ruled Brazil from 2003 to 2011, prevailed in a runoff against right-wing Jair Bolsonaro. The "Donald Trump of the tropics" had largely isolated himself internationally with his policy of isolation. Great hopes are now being pinned on Lula, especially when it comes to fighting climate change, for which Brazil, with its tropical rainforests, plays a central role.
Scholz promised Lula support in his efforts to curb deforestation for agriculture. Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD), who accompanied Scholz in Brasília, pledged 200 million euros for this. The chancellor held out the prospect of further help without being specific.
Scholz speaks of a "new chapter" in the relationship
Scholz announced a resumption of the German-Brazilian government consultations for the autumn, which were suspended after the premiere in 2015 during Bolsonaro's government. He spoke of a "new chapter" in the relationship between the two countries. "We are all happy that Brazil are back on the world stage," he said. "You were missed, dear Lula." After these words, the Brazilian head of state spontaneously hugged him.
Scholz also addressed the attacks on government institutions in Brasília on January 8 this year and promised Lula support in defending democracy. "Democrats must stand together," he said.
On January 8, thousands of Bolsonaro supporters stormed the government district in Brasília. They broke into Congress, the Supreme Court and the government seat, Palácio do Planalto, and rioted in offices and boardrooms. The traces were still visible when Scholz visited. The window front in Lula's presidential palace has been repaired with many wooden panels. However, the palace has been restored to the extent that visitors from abroad can be received.
Lula urges the free trade agreement to be completed quickly
The differences of opinion over the Ukraine war clouded the new start in German-Brazilian relations, which is also expected to provide economic momentum. The conclusion of the free trade agreement between the South American confederation of states Mercosur and the European Union, which is on hold, should contribute to this. Lula called for a quick finalization, but also made it clear that he expected the Europeans to make concessions. "We will try to show the Europeans how flexible we are. And we want the Europeans to show us how flexible they are."
The EU has been negotiating with Mercosur - which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay - since 1999 over the deal that would create one of the largest free trade areas in the world with more than 700 million people.
Lula draws a red line: no more 1:7 - at most 0:0
Lula finally drew a very clear red line for the further development of German-Brazilian relations, which has nothing to do with politics: "The only thing that must not happen is that Germany plays in Brazil and the Brazilian national team with 7 :1 defeated," he said, referring to the lost semi-finals at the World Cup in his own country in 2014. "If they [the Germans] come to Brazil, they can only achieve a 0-0 draw, that's enough."
Scholz ended his visit to South America and is expected back in Berlin on Wednesday morning.