The UN General Assembly opened on Tuesday September 19 in New York with its traditional speeches by heads of state. The Brazilian president was the first to speak out as the international community is divided over the Ukrainian conflict.
As tradition dictates, Brazil has had the privilege since 1947 of speaking in the first position from the podium of the UN during its General Assembly, and therefore of addressing a still fresh, available audience, whose attention was not impaired by long hours of speech. While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was to speak for the first time from the podium in the evening. The Ukrainian conflict is one of the issues that divides the international community, between defenders of Ukrainian sovereignty and supporters of peace and therefore of dialogue with Russia. This is the case of Brazilian President Lula da Silva.
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In this context, Lula, who since his election last year has wanted to bring a peace initiative to the Ukrainian conflict, has put the idea of a negotiation back on the table. “We do not underestimate the efforts that will lead to peace. But no solution will be possible without dialogue. It is imperative to work to open spaces for negotiation. We will continue to criticize all attempts to divide the world, create zones of influence and plunge back into a cold war.” declared the Brazilian president at the UN.
Lula will meet face-to-face on Wednesday evening in New York with Volodymyr Zelensky. Lula defender of multilateralism, of the third diplomatic path in pole position of countries which do not necessarily encourage the Russian invasion in Ukraine, but which refuse to comply with the path imposed by the West.
Brazil and Russia are both members of the Brics
It is a perilous exercise for Lula to support a head of state like Vladimir Putin who is the subject of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC). This caused Lula embarrassment in early September when a journalist asked him if Vladimir Putin would be invited to the next G20 organized in Brazil. The Brazilian president said his Russian counterpart would be invited and that there was no reason for Vladimir Putin to be arrested. However, Brazil has ratified the statutes of the ICC and must therefore arrest on its territory any person targeted by an ICC arrest warrant. Lula therefore corrected himself two days later by finally affirming that it would be up to the Ministry of Justice to decide on the arrest of Vladimir Putin.
Lula has a positioning problem vis-à-vis Russia, because Russia is one of the founding members of the Brics of which Lula is one of the main spokespersons. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, an alliance which expanded further at the end of August and which intends to take advantage of this UN session to show its solidarity. The Brics represent 40% of global GDP, represent almost half of the planet’s population and are beginning to worry Westerners. This is why certain chancelleries are beginning to regret the Lula of before, to present him as a has-been president, almost doting, because his speech becomes inaudible to Westerners.