The meeting between President Jair Bolsanaro and Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled for Wednesday (16/02), and the country sees Moscow as an opportunity to take advantage of the recent “cooling” in relations between Brazil and the United States. Bolzano, on the other hand, is trying to show strength amid the difficulties he faces in this year’s elections.
Evaluated by Russian experts consulted by BBC News Brazil and the BBC’s Russian Service. According to them, Bolzano is practically unknown in the country and is seen as a politician who shows severe difficulties in re-election. Nevertheless, Putin, who is facing an international crisis on the border with Ukraine, should examine the meeting with Brazil politically.
Bolzano will arrive in Moscow on Tuesday (02/15), and his meeting with Putin is scheduled for the next day. The official agenda includes at least two moments when the two heads of state are together. Putin’s visit comes amid rising tensions on Russia’s border with Ukraine and fears of a Russian invasion.
The confirmation of Bolzano’s visit to Moscow caused a backlash in the US government. Behind the scenes, US diplomats expressed annoyance over the visit.
Two weeks ago, when asked about Bolsanaro’s visit to Putin, the US State Department sent a note to BBC News stating that Brazil “has a responsibility to uphold democratic principles, maintain law and order and strengthen this message to Russia.” In every case “.
This note is the latest episode in which Bolzano has been seen gradually stepping down from the US government since the defeat of Donald Trump in 2020.
The two were seen as allies and Bolzano was internationally known as the “Trump Tropical”. Joe Biden’s visit to the U.S. presidency and demands for Amazon protection are seen as points that widen the gap between Bolsanaro and the US government.
Faced with this distance, for Russian experts, the visit of Bolzano Putin is seen as an opportunity from a Russian perspective.
‘Doors of Hope’
Vladimir Sudarev, a professor of history and politics in Europe and the United States at the Moscow Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), estimates that after Bolsanaro’s election, Brazilians have always been strongly associated with former President Donald Trump. To some extent, his visit to Moscow is seen as part of an effort to restructure the country’s foreign policy.
“He (Bolsanaro) needs to restructure his international policy, which a few years ago leaned strongly towards the United States,” said Professor Vladimir Sudarev.
“In this sense, the Brazilian military-industrial complex is very interested in military cooperation with Russia, which opens the door to hope for Russia,” Sudarev analyzes.
“Until recently, this (alignment) was pushed back by strong American pressure. Now the situation is different,” said Ivanovsky, head of the Policy Research Center at the Latin American Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. .
Military and diplomatic issues will, in fact, be on the agenda of the Brazilian delegation in Moscow. For the first time, a meeting called “Two Plus Two” is planned in diplomatic circles, in which the Ministers of International Relations and Defense of the two countries will meet.
On the Brazilian side, BBC News Brazil confirmed the presence of President Carlos Alberto Franco Franca and Defense Minister Walter Prague Neto. On the Russian side, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is also expected to be present.
In addition, the Secretary of Defense Products of the Brazilian Ministry of Defense, Marcos Decat Pontes, should be part of the Brazilian delegation in Moscow. Historically, Brazil has always been the largest buyer of war goods from the United States and Western European countries.
Plans to build nuclear submarines with France and to modernize the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) fighter jets with jets purchased from Sweden are key projects in the country’s defense sector. However, the Russians are the main suppliers of war products and export to countries such as China and Venezuela.
Against this background and in the midst of the Russo-Ukrainian crisis, experts say Putin will benefit from Bolsanaro’s visit, especially as US and European powers push for Putin to mobilize his forces on the Ukrainian border.
“Due to the important, positive media impact on both leaders, he could draw something positive from this visit on the international stage,” Ivanovsky said.
“It is already in the Kremlin’s favor that the U.S. State Department behave so painfully (towards this trip).
“This will allow him (Putin) to disturb the United States a little bit in Latin America and expand the sphere of influence of the Russians at their (American) weak point,” Sudorov added.
Earlier this month, another Latin American head of state, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, visited Putin in Moscow.
Bolzano is little known in Russia
According to Russian experts, Bolzano is a man little known to the Russian people and his visit is unlikely to have the same impact as other Brazilian presidents, such as Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Luis Inacio Lula da Silva in 2002 and 2010, respectively.
“The Russian public (except for experts in international relations) does not know Bolsanaro in practice because the official press does not pay special attention to him. […] At the same time, the current president of Brazil does not seem to be a ‘good guy’ in the international arena. In any case, he does not seem to be too controlled by Washington, “said Professor Sudarev.
Victor Geoffrey, a professor of international relations at the University of Petersburg, is one of the leading Russian experts in Latin America, including Brazil. According to him, Bolzano’s visit will not carry as much weight as other Brazilian presidents in the past.
“It’s not going to be a political quake. It’s not like the journeys of (Fernando Henrik) Cardoso or Lula. But it’s not with Dilma (Rousseff) and (Michael) Demer. No, “he said.
According to Geifetz, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Lula are seen as Brazilian presidents in Russia, and they have been instrumental in the organization of the BRICS, which is important in Russia’s strategy to balance US power in the international arena.
“Compared to other presidents, (Bolsanaro’s visit) is not relevant, but it’s even more important because Brazil is bigger, and it makes sense in BRICS-related strategy,” Geiffets said, referring to Brazil’s group of emerging economies with Russia. , India, China and South Africa.
Brazil election on Russian horizon
Although Paulsonaro is generally little known by the Russian people, experts following the Brazilian political scene say that the move toward President Putin in Brazil is seen as a ploy to show strength amid the difficulties he faces in this year’s election. .
Geoffrey, who is affiliated with the Russian think tank Voltaire, says Russian analysts close to Putin think the chances of Bolsanaro being re-elected are slim if the polarization between Putin and former President Lula continues.
“I approached the analytical reports on this. There is still a year to go before the election. Everything will be resolved in the election, but the reports I have seen are very unlikely that Bolzano will be re-elected,” he said.
According to Zbigniew Ivanovsky, Paulsonaro Putin’s visit to Russia is seen by Brazilians as an opportunity to “get points” in a controversial election situation.
“Bolsanaro should have serious rivals in the election, so he should get points now. And he can do it through a good relationship with Russia,” he said.
“Do not forget that Bolzano is holding presidential elections in October. For the average Brazilian, I think he will try to show this (this reconciliation) as an achievement to win a section of the central electorate because he is considered a politician. Well, Ivanovsky said.
The Ukrainian crisis is somewhat off the radar
According to Russian experts, the Ukrainian crisis should not be at the center of relations between Bolsanaro and Putin.
“For Paulsonaro, the questions about the escalation (tension) around Ukraine are not of significant significance. In this case, at the UN Security Council meeting, Brazil voted against Russia,” he recalled.
According to Geoffrey, from a Russian point of view, Bolzano was not the best person to solve the Ukrainian problem. Among the reasons for this, as he mentioned earlier, is that Bolzano will not be re-elected.
Despite this, Geoffrey says that in the face of the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, it would already be to the advantage of the Russian president that Putin and Bolsanaro do not go to Russia and mention the matter.
“If there is no change, Bolsanaro will not be re-elected. It is very clear that someone else will come after him. The most important thing for Moscow is that he does not speak in favor of Russia, but he does not speak. Obviously, this is already considered an important issue,” he said.
Bolzano, who is staying in Russia until Thursday (02/17), will travel to Hungary where he will meet with Prime Minister Victor Orban.
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