Mexico, Brazil, Argentina are too soft on Russia, contradicting their previous stands | Opinion

Mexico, Brazil and Argentina’s latest actions on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are shameful. The next time these populist governments claim to be champions of the principle of non-intervention in other countries’ internal affairs, they should be called out for what they are — hypocrites and cowards.

While the three countries initially condemned Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations, alongside the vast majority of the world’s diplomatic community, they since have undermined international efforts to punish Russia for its unjustified attack on a sovereign country.

On April 20, when U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and finance ministers from the world’s biggest democracies walked out of a G-20 meeting in Washington, D.C., as their Russian counterpart took the podium, they were not joined by their peers from Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

Instead, the finance ministers of these three Latin American countries stayed in the room, according to Argentina’s daily La Nación. By not walking out, they shunned Western efforts to suspend Russia from international groups such as the G-20, a consultation group of the world’s richest countries, and tacitly handed a propaganda victory to Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin.

A day later, on April 21, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina failed to support an Organization of American States (OAS) resolution that suspended Russia as a permanent observer of the 34-country group.

The OAS resolution was passed with 25 votes in favor, including those of Chile and Peru, both of them leftist governments, and eight abstentions. Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, El Salvador and Honduras were among the countries that abstained.

Ukraine’s government is openly disappointed by the lack of active support from some of Latin America’s biggest democracies. While traditionally neutral countries elsewhere, such as Switzerland, Sweden and Japan, are imposing sanctions on Putin’s regime, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina are not even willing to take symbolic measures against Russia.

In a telephone interview from Ukraine, Yuri Diudin, the Ukrainian foreign ministry’s deputy director for Latin America, told me that his country wants a united front of the world’s democracies against Russia. But, unfortunately, not all are fully on board, he says.

“Some countries, even if they don’t openly support the Russian aggression, are neither categorically condemning it,” he told me, referring to Latin America’s biggest democracies. “They condemn it in their words, but we’re not seeing that happening with their actions.”

He added that whether it’s boycotting speeches by Russian officials or suspending cultural or sports agreements, “Every measure [against Putin] is a grain of sand that helps, because it shows that countries are not aligned with Russia.”

Indeed, while international boycotts will probably not topple Putin, they help send a strong message to the Russian people that Putin is lying to them, and that the democratic world does not support Russia’s invasion.

Every time Mexico, Brazil or Argentina abstains from voting to punish Russia at international or regional organizations or fails to join Western democracies in boycotting events where Russian officials are allowed to spread their falsehoods, Putin scores a propaganda victory.

It allows the Russian strongman to effectively tell the Russian people: “You see, not only China, but the whole developing world is with us. It’s only the United States and European powers that are against us.”

Mexico and Brazil’s ambiguity about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is all the more unfortunate because they have a history of actively supporting Western democracies — even with troops — at critical times, such as during World War II.

And they, as well as Argentina, are contradicting their own claims to be unwavering defenders of non-intervention in other countries’ internal affairs by failing to take a stronger stand against Russia.

Can there possibly be a bigger intervention in another country’s internal affairs than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with up to 190,000 Russian troops bombarding Ukrainian cities and killing thousands of civilians? How can some of these countries proclaim to be “anti-imperialist,” yet fail to take even the mildest actions against the biggest invasion by a world military power in recent memory?

It doesn’t make sense. Mexico, Brazil and Argentina should join the world’s democracies and actively oppose — even if it’s with symbolic gestures — Russia’s imperial ambitions.

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