Bolsonaro tells Putin that Brazil supports peaceful end to Ukraine crisis

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (left) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a joint press conference in Moscow. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro said on Wednesday (Feb 16) that he spoke with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow about the Ukraine crisis, but said he did not deliver any specific message other than that Brazil supported a peaceful resolution.

"I told Putin that Brazil supports any country that seeks peace. And that's his intention," Bolsonaro told reporters after his meeting with the Russian leader.

He added that Russia's insistence that it has begun withdrawing troops from around Ukraine's border - a claim disputed by the United States and Nato - was a sign that "a path to a peaceful solution has presented itself."

Bolsonaro snubbed US calls to put off his trip to Moscow, which coincided with intense Western diplomatic efforts to dissuade Putin from invading his neighbour.

Russia has denied it is planning an invasion.

Brazil has long had cordial ties with Russia, which is a fellow member of the Brics group of emerging economies.

Earlier, after a cozy fireside chat with Putin at the Kremlin, Bolsonaro said Brazil is interested in small nuclear reactors made by Russian state energy firm Rosatom. Bolsonaro's two-hour talk with Putin also included discussion of sales of fertilizers that are badly needed by Brazilian agriculture and cooperation on defence and nuclear technology.

"Our corporation (Rosatom) is ready to participate in construction of new power units in Brazil, including low-capacity nuclear power plants, both on land and in floating versions," Putin said, touting Russia's small reactor technology.

Unlike other global figures - including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who were recently pictured speaking with Putin in the Kremlin at either ends of a vast white table - Bolsonaro enjoyed closer physical proximity with the Russian leader.

Both Macron and Scholz were kept further away due to their unwillingness to take Russian Covid-19 tests before their meetings with Putin.

Bolsonaro took the Russian test, his office confirmed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Moscow, on Feb 7, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

Analysts said Bolsonaro was eager to visit Putin to present himself as less internationally isolated.

The Brazilian leader has seen his global clout diminish since former US president Donald Trump, a key ally, lost his 2020 re-election bid. Bolsonaro has also been isolated due to his poor record in stopping Amazon deforestation and his widely criticised handling of the pandemic.

Bolsonaro arrived in Moscow on Tuesday wearing a face mask, which he rarely does in Brazil, and was given a tour of the Kremlin later that evening.

In September, Rosatom signed an agreement with Brazil's state-owned Eletronuclear, which manages the country's two reactors, to cooperate on the construction and maintenance of nuclear power plants, the processing of nuclear materials and radioactive waste management.

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