Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Saturday he did not want to “please anyone” with his views about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after provoking criticism in the West for suggesting Kyiv shared the blame for the war.
Speaking in Lisbon at the start of his first visit to Europe since being elected president, Lula said his aim was to “build a way to bring both of them (Russia and Ukraine) to the table”.
“I want to find a third alternative (to solve the conflict), which is the construction of peace,” he told a news conference.
Last week he said the United States and European allies should stop supplying arms to Ukraine, arguing that they were prolonging the war. “If you are not making peace, you are contributing to war,” Lula said.
The White House accused Lula of parroting Russian and Chinese propaganda.
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who accompanied Lula at the news conference, said their countries’ stances on the war were different.
Portugal is a founding member of the Western NATO defence alliance and has sent military equipment to Ukraine. Rebelo de Sousa said Ukraine had the right to defend itself and recover its territory.
Lula arrived in Portugal on Friday for a five-day visit as he strives to improve foreign ties after Jair Bolsonaro’s four years in office, during which Brazil’s relations with many countries including its former colonial power frayed.
Bolsonaro did not visit Portugal, home to around 300,000 Brazilians, during his time in office.
“I wanted to tell you how happy I am,” Lula, standing next to Costa, told a room packed with government officials and reporters. “Brazil spent almost six years, especially the last four, isolated from the world.
“Brazil is back, to improve our relationship.”
Lula signed 13 agreements on technology, energy transition, tourism, culture and education with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
Brazil has said Portugal could be an important ally in helping South America’s Mercosur bloc to negotiate a free trade deal with the European Union (EU). “Small adjustments are needed but we will do it,” Lula said.