The Meeting Between Lula’s Chief Foreign Policy Advisor & President Putin Was Very Important
In order to remove any doubt that Lula is deliberately aligning with the US in the grand strategic sense and wasn’t just misled into doing so, leading Russian officials wanted to make sure that he and his team knew the Kremlin’s position on their proxy war with NATO in Ukraine. This explains their invitation for the Brazilian leader’s chief foreign policy advisor to visit Moscow, during which time President Putin unexpectedly met with him as proof of the importance that his country attaches to assessing Lula’s intentions.
Amorim’s Previously Unreported Meeting
Former Brazilian Foreign Minister and incumbent chief presidential foreign policy advisor Celso Amorim told CNN Brasil about his previously unreported trip to Moscow late last month, which he visited prior to dropping by Paris as part of President Lula’s efforts to mediate the Ukrainian Conflict. He disclosed that his hour-long meeting with President Putin wasn’t foreseen, but that he took the opportunity to discuss mutual economic interests and then hear the Russian leader’s defense of his country’s special operation.
CNN Brasil’s Report
Here’s what Amorim subsequently shared with CNN about their meeting:
“To say that the doors are open [for a peace negotiation] would be an exaggeration, but to say that they are completely closed is not true either.
There is no magic solution [to stop the conflict]. But there will come a time when, on one side or the other, a realization will emerge that the cost of war — not just the political cost, but the human and economic cost — will be greater than the cost of the necessary concessions for peace.
My feeling is that this moment has not yet arrived, but it could come sooner than you think. And then the existence of a group of ‘neutral’ countries — this is where quotation marks are needed — can help…there was a desire (by Putin) to leave some margin (to Russia’s goals) so that, in a future situation, there could be some kind of negotiation.
Sometimes, on the western side, we feel a certain fatigue of some forces [with the war]. There in Russia, this is less noticeable. In Moscow, there is no feeling of a country at war.”
Their meeting will now be analyzed in order to assess its overall importance.
A Secret Sojourn With Positive Intentions
For starters, readers should be aware that Lula’s grand strategy that was detailed here citing official sources is politically unfriendly towards Russia, while Moscow’s new foreign policy concept towards Latin America that was analyzed here promotes de-ideologized pragmatic cooperation. It’s therefore Brazil’s prerogative whether or not it and Russia expand their mutually beneficial economic ties in spite of their diverging worldviews since Lula has thus far prioritized his ideology over these interests.
His dispatch of Amorim to Moscow within this context suggests that influential elements within the Workers’ Party have convinced him to consider moderating his liberal–globalist zeal in foreign affairs in order to avoid needlessly complicating relations with fellow BRICS partner Russia. For this reason, it can be concluded that the trip was undertaken with positive intentions, especially considering that it comes before Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s planned visit to Brazil this month.
The Economic-Political Dimensions of Their Meeting
Both sides have an interest in agreeing to something tangible that can be announced during their upcoming press conference in order to make it worth that top diplomat’s time to have traveled halfway across the world, thus explaining the official reason why Amorim went to Moscow when he did. While there, he also planned to discuss what Brazil still officially considers to be the Ukrainian Conflict despite it indisputably having transformed into a NATO-Russian proxy war over the past year.
It was already explained here why it makes perfect sense that Russia doesn’t support Lula’s G20-like peace proposal, while this piece that was published here after Brazil voted in support of an anti-Russian UNGA Resolution illustrates how far apart its envisaged settlement is from China’s. With this in mind, there was never any credible chance that Moscow would seriously consider fully withdrawing from all the territory that Kiev claims as its own like Brazil demanded it do in the document that it voted for.
Clarifying Lula’s Geostrategic Intentions
For precisely that reason, however, leading Russian officials had an interest in sharing their views about this conflict with Amorim. Their motivation was to ensure that Brazil can’t claim ignorance of Moscow’s position as justification for voting against it at the UNGA the next time that a pertinent resolution is tabled. As proven here and here citing official sources, Lula already publicly explained why he politically aligned with the US against Russia in this conflict, which prompted suspicions from the Kremlin.
In order to remove any doubt that he’s deliberately aligning with the US in the grand strategic sense as explained in the previously hyperlinked analysis near the introduction and wasn’t just misled into doing so, they wanted to make sure that Lula and his team knew Russia’s position. So important was it to do so ahead of Russia’s forthcoming engagement with Latin America as shaped by its new foreign policy concept that President Putin took an hour out of his very busy schedule to meet with Amorim.
Amorim’s Meeting Wasn’t All That Special
This guaranteed that the ruling party’s propagandists can’t spin any of Brazil’s future votes against Russia as being due to ignorance of its policy, with there now being no ambiguity about its grand strategic intentions in that scenario. Amorim’s unexpected meeting with President Putin was therefore meant to assess Brazil’s aforesaid intentions as well as possibly discuss the chances of Lula deporting a suspected spy back to Russia instead of extraditing him to the US to face charges.
It’s beyond the scope of this analysis to detail that drama in the present piece, but intrepid readers can learn more about it here. Before summarizing the importance of their meeting, observers should be made aware that while it was a privilege for Amorim to have an audience with President Putin, this is actually something that the Russian leader already earlier granted to India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese foreign policy chief Wang Yi.
President Putin Likely Wouldn’t Meet With Vieira
As such, it shouldn’t be interpreted as an exclusive privilege extended to that Brazilian representative, but as privilege that President Putin extends to all the BRICS countries’ most influential policymakers. Moreover, it would have been politically uncomfortable for him to meet with Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira after that figure strongly implied late last month that President Putin would be arrested if he visited that country, hence why only Amorim could be dispatched to Moscow on Lula’s behalf.
Having clarified the optics of their meeting so as to dispel the disinformation being pushed about it by some of the ruling party’s propagandists on social media, the reader should thus now have a better understanding of why Lula’s chief foreign policy advisor visited the Russian capital and not anyone else. His meeting with President Putin was indeed immensely important because of the latest New Cold War context within which it was held.
Russia’s Disappointment With Lula’s Worldview
Despite the high hopes in Russia that Lula would break with Bolsonaro’s precedent by abstaining from anti-Russian UNGA resolutions instead of voting for them (with the exception of the latter sitting out on the one about removing Russia from the Human Rights Council), he turned out to be a disappointment. Not only did he continue this trend, but he also became the first BRICS leader to personally condemn Russia in his joint statement with Biden from early February, which raised suspicions of his intentions.
It was therefore of premier importance for the Kremlin to discern whether he’s deliberately aligning with the US in the grand strategic sense considering everything that it could entail for the future of Russian-Brazilian relations or was misled into doing so due to his ideological alignment with the US’ Democrats. This explains why President Putin took an hour out of his very busy schedule to meet with Amorim, during which time they might have also discussed the latest spy scandal that was earlier touched upon.
Lavrov’s upcoming trip to Brazil will reveal whether they successfully agreed on anything of tangible economic significance or if Lula’s ideology remains a stumbling block to expanding mutually beneficial cooperation. Regardless of the outcome, his geostrategic intentions will be completely clarified in the eyes of Russian policymakers the next time that there’s another hostile resolution tabled at the UNGA. Considering this context, Amorim’s meeting with President Putin was a pivotal moment in bilateral ties.
This article was originally published on Andrew Korybko’s Newsletter.