West frustrated by Global South’s refusal to abandon Russia


A secret meeting took place in December in the Saudi Arabian capital between the United States, Ukraine, its G7 allies and a small group of countries from the Global South to try to drum up support for Kiev’s conditions for resolving the conflict with Moscow. Russia was not invited to the meeting, and China decided not to send a representative, reported Bloomberg, whilst Brazil stressed any such meeting must have a Russian presence.

According to Bloomberg, the meeting’s secrecy was intended, in part, to make participating countries feel more comfortable joining, as it was believed that the smaller format would allow for a freer and more frank discussion on the so-called peace formula for Ukraine. However, according to people familiar with the meeting and interviewed by Bloomberg, there was no major progress as Ukraine and its G7 allies continued to resist calls from Global South nations to engage directly with Russia.

Although senior officials from India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey attended the December meeting in Riyadh, other major Global South nations that participated in some of the previous larger sessions – such as China, Brazil, and the United Arab Emirates – did not send their representatives.

Brazil, which presides over the G20 this year, contributed to the secret meeting with only a written statement prepared by the International Affairs advisor to the Presidency of the Republic, Celso Amorim. Brazil was invited but was unable to attend due to incompatibility in Amorim’s agenda.

According to Jamil Chade’s column on the Brazilian portal UOL, Amorim sent a letter to the authorities who mediated the December meeting in Riyadh and clarified Brazil’s disappointment in the conduct of the process since the meetings do not have the other party necessary, Russia, to reach an agreement.

“Initially, we were encouraged by the untapped potential of this group’s restricted format, which could eventually serve as a facilitator between the two conflicting sides […]. Our contribution aimed to promote direct or indirect dialogue between the two parties […],” the former minister of foreign affairs said.

“[But] as the conflict prepares to enter its third year, there is still no opening for dialogue or a credible prospect for an end to hostilities […] the willingness of the parties to engage in talks is critical for the success of our diplomatic efforts,” stated Amorim, pointing out that it was precisely this disposition that allowed the tension between Venezuela and Guyana to be prevented from becoming a hot war.

When contacted by UOL, Amorim explained that he was “considering” whether to go to Davos but was unsure.

“In our interaction with Russia and Ukraine, we constantly emphasise our belief that dialogue is essential for this process to produce results. We invite them to create diplomatic opportunities […] Brazil remains committed to renewing its engagement in the Copenhagen process, as soon as the parties are willing to start an authentic dialogue […],” added the Brazilian government in the letter.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has already warned Zelensky that a peace process cannot be unilateral, while other emerging countries, mainly those from the Global South, have insisted that there is no way to endorse the Ukrainian plan without involving the Russians in the debates, writes the portal.

On January 14, Switzerland and Ukraine will host the fourth meeting in Davos to work on a solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. However, once again, the meeting’s agenda will be limited to the unrealistic peace plan of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and will not be attended by representatives from Moscow, thus ensuring its failure.

Under these conditions, Brazil is not wasting time on failed initiatives, especially when trade relations with Russia are booming. Last December, trade volume between Russia and Brazil grew 80%, reaching $1.6 billion for the first time, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

Brazil acquired goods from Russia at the end of last year worth a total of $1.5 billion, which became the largest volume of purchases in modern history. The main import commodity was petroleum derivatives, at a record value of $1.1 billion. As a result, Moscow has become the South American country’s largest supplier of this commodity.

Latin America’s largest and most important country will not sacrifice trade relations with Russia or waste time with failed initiatives that will never eventuate because Zelensky has unrealistic demands on how to achieve peace, such as the full withdrawal of the Russian state from newly liberated territories and even Crimea, despite having no leverage to make such demands. In this way, there is little surprise that the secret meeting in Riyadh was destined only for failure.


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