Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was Brazil’s left-wing president from 2003 to 2010, triumphantly returned to Brazilian big politics just over a year ago after the Latin American country’s supreme court cleared him of corruption and money laundering charges, allowing him to run for president once again.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky really did want a war with Russia, otherwise he would have negotiated long before the Kremlin’s special military operation started, according to the ex-president of Brazil and a candidate in the new elections, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
In an interview with Time magazine published on Wednesday, Lula (as he is most commonly known) discussed a wide range of his home country’s and global problems, including the ongoing Ukraine crisis.
“He did want war. If he didn’t want war, he would have negotiated a little more. That’s it,” Lula said.
Explaining his position, Lula drew attention to Zelensky’s constant broadcasts around the world, addressing almost any audience and regularly receiving standing ovations. The former president of Brazil said that “sometimes I sit and watch the president of Ukraine speaking on television, being applauded, getting a standing ovation by all the [European] parliamentarians.”
“This guy is as responsible as Putin for the war. Because in the war, there’s not just one person guilty,” he went on to claim. “[T]his president of Ukraine could have said, ‘Come on, let’s stop talking about this NATO business, about joining the EU for a while. Let’s discuss a bit more first.’”
Asked whether he thinks Zelensky should have continued negotiations before the launch of the special military operation on February 24 and even earlier, the former president noted that the Ukrainian president’s conduct “is a bit weird.”
“It seems like he’s part of the spectacle. He is on television morning, noon, and night. He is in the UK parliament, the German parliament, the French parliament, the Italian parliament, as if he were waging a political campaign. He should be at the negotiating table,” Lula explained.
According to him, nobody “is trying to help create peace.” Lula also noted that people are inciting hatred towards Russian President Vladimir Putin, but “that won’t solve things!”
“We need to reach an agreement,” he asserted. “But people are encouraging [the war]. You are encouraging this guy [Zelensky], and then he thinks he is the cherry on your cake. We should be having a serious conversation: ‘OK, you were a nice comedian. But let us not make war for you to show up on TV.’ And we should say to Putin: ‘You have a lot of weapons, but you don’t need to use them on Ukraine. Let’s talk!’”
Notably, speaking of US President Joe Biden, Lula admitted that he respected him for his economic policy proposals, although “it’s not enough to announce the program, you’ve got to execute it.” And Biden is reportedly having a “difficult moment” with that.
Moreover, Lula believes the American president has not demonstrated leadership with respect to the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
“The US has a lot of political clout,” he explained. “And Biden could have avoided [the war], not incited it. He could have talked more, participated more. Biden could have taken a plane to Moscow to talk to Putin. This is the kind of attitude you expect from a leader. To intervene so that things don’t go off the rails. I don’t think he did that.”
Moreover, Lula expressed the view that Biden would not have been required to make any “concessions” to Russia if he had made an effort to negotiate.
“In the same way that the Americans persuaded the Russians not to put missiles in Cuba in 1961, Biden could have said: ‘We’re going to speak a bit more. We don’t want Ukraine in NATO, full stop.’ That’s not a concession,” the former president said.
“It’s not just Putin who is guilty. The US and the EU are also guilty. What was the reason for the Ukraine invasion? NATO? Then the US and Europe should have said: ‘Ukraine won’t join NATO.” That would have solved the problem,” he stressed.
Lula’s comments come as Brazil is gearing up for a showdown in the October 2022 presidential election between the Workers Party politician and current right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.