'Peace negotiations in Ukraine cannot ignore Russia's security concerns,' says Celso Amorim

In a meeting with media representatives, Lula and his special advisor for international affairs, Celso Amorim, discussed some of the key topics in national politics

O assessor especial de Lula, Celso Amorim - 5/12/2022
O assessor especial de Lula, Celso Amorim - 5/12/2022 (Foto: REUTERS/Adriano Machado)

Sputnik — In a meeting with media representatives, Lula and his special advisor for international affairs, Celso Amorim, discussed some of the key issues in national politics. However, topics like the conflict in Ukraine were also addressed, and Amorim's insights on the matter once again captured attention.

Although current discussions in the West have focused on projecting scenarios around an unlikely defeat of Russia on the battlefield, Lula, much like Amorim himself, has emphasized the importance of establishing conditions for a peace agreement between Russians and Ukrainians.

Given this context, Amorim argued that peace negotiations in Ukraine cannot "ignore Russia's security concerns," which he deemed genuine and legitimate. While Amorim's stance represents a well-considered position on the conflict, Lula's special advisor for international affairs had previously faced criticism from the Brazilian media aligned with major Western conglomerates.

One of these curious clashes occurred during an interview with an – evidently agitated and quite abrasive – Brazilian analyst based in the United States, who questioned Amorim's secret visit to Russia (where he was received by President Vladimir Putin himself).

On that occasion, the mentioned analyst – pointing an accusing finger – criticized Amorim for not visiting Kyiv on his way back to Brazil. Amorim responded calmly, as is his custom, mentioning that during his visit to Russia, the former chancellor also addressed various other matters related to bilateral relations. He also made a point of recalling his subsequent visit to France, one of the countries that has indeed supported Ukraine in the conflict.

Amorim reaffirmed that Brazil is open to dialogue with all parties and understands the issues caused by wars and armed conflicts worldwide. Nonetheless, the former Brazilian chancellor provided examples of the tragedies caused in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq (all involving American participation), much to the visible displeasure of his interviewer.

In truth, this was just an illustrative example of the attacks often directed at Amorim and Lula, as both are interested not in prolonging the conflict in Ukraine or in a fanciful defeat of Russia, but in concluding a peace agreement in Eastern Europe. This is because Amorim argues that Brazil should not automatically follow the West's position and interpretation on important international agenda items, such as the Ukraine conflict.

The fact remains that even renowned Western thinkers, such as neorealist John Mearsheimer or economist Jeffrey Sachs, have interpreted the reasons behind the conflict in Ukraine as stemming from the West's lack of empathy towards Russia's legitimate security concerns regarding NATO's presence on its southern borders, which include the steppes.

Lula and Amorim, on their part, argue that Brazil should play a role as a promoter of peace, not war, seeking a solution in conjunction with other important countries (such as Turkey, Indonesia, China, India, and others), even though there might not be a conducive atmosphere for negotiations between the conflicting parties at the moment.

As Amorim emphasized in his recent meeting with media representatives, "our vision and that of other countries is that dialogue is necessary to achieve peace. And dialogue cannot be with oneself [...] there will only be peace when everyone finds it possible and interesting." Therefore, in order for peace to be appealing to Russia, Amorim stressed, its legitimate security concerns must by no means be left out.

Moreover, it is worth remembering that Brazil and Russia have been longstanding partners within BRICS, with both countries being major contributors to the group's establishment in the mid-2000s. Since 2006, Celso Amorim himself, when he was the Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs, played a pivotal role, alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in the initial talks that gave impetus to the group's formation. This is when cooperation between Brazil and Russia took on new qualitative dimensions, reaffirming the importance of multilateralism and multipolarity in international relations.

The fact is that Amorim's legacy symbolizes Brazil's more active participation in the international system and its pursuit of a more significant role in addressing major global issues. The conflict in Ukraine is no exception. This is why Amorim has been engaged in promoting a peaceful solution to the conflict in Eastern Europe.

Furthermore, Amorim is critical of the Western attempts to politically isolate Russia and the unilateral sanctions imposed on Moscow, which he characterizes as a "strategic mistake," resulting only in greater international instability and increased animosity between the parties.

For instance, Lula's Brazil has even agreed with Chinese proposals for a peace negotiation in Eastern Europe, which involve an immediate suspension of sanctions against Russia and the abandonment of a Cold War mentality. Brazil, therefore, reaffirms the importance of international cooperation in seeking a solution to the crisis, following the pacifist principles enshrined in its Constitution.

Thus, in their aspiration to make Brazil a protagonist of the Global South, Lula and Amorim continue their path amid the convoluted geopolitical theater of our times. Still, although today's international situation is far more complex than when Amorim was Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2003 and 2010, he remains an important political actor, especially when reminding us that peace will only be possible once Russia's legitimate demands are truly addressed. After all, if some of Amorim's statements are discomforting, they are discomforting not for being biased, but for being true.

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