Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro Monday vowed to grant humanitarian visas to Ukrainian refugees but insisted on his country’s neutral stance regarding Russia’s invasion.
Bolsonaro also ruled out any possible talks with Ukrainian leader Volodimir Zelenski.
”We will consider the possibility of Ukrainians coming to Brazil through a humanitarian visa, which is the easiest way, we will not have problems (...) they will be well received, Bolsonaro said Monday.
The President also highlighted Ukrainians were predominantly Christian and said he had discussed the humanitarian visa alternative with Foreign Minister Carlos Franca, who told me that he will take the necessary measures.
Brazil was planning to send two Air Force KC-390 cargo planes to pick up Brazilian evacuees. But he stressed his country was heavily dependent on Russian fertilizers to keep its agribusiness going.
Brazil’s stance has been heavily criticized by Ukraine's UN Ambassador Yevheniia Filipenko: There is no room for neutrality in the face of the current situation, we all need to stand up in defense of our basic values, the diplomat said. Governments must make a decision to stand on the right side of history, Filipenko went on. If we fail now no one will be safe on this planet, neither here nor in Latin America, it is about our security that we are talking about.”
But words will not change Bolsonaro’s stance; nor will global financial sanctions against Russia, which has been banned from the SWIFT global banking platform.
“In practice, excluding [Russia] from this system, which is the largest communication system between banks and financial institutions, would make it difficult to send and receive money from Russia,” Brazilian magazine Veja explained.
“Located in Brussels, SWIFT is governed by Belgian law and used by over 11,000 financial institutions in over 200 countries,” added the magazine before delving into expert analysis.
“We have a history of small countries that have not given in to economic sanctions,” said Renata Amaral, an international trade consultant and professor at the American University quoted by Veja. “I don't think it would change the course of their actions, but it would have consequences,” she said.
“Although the exclusion of SWIFT has significant impacts, there are alternatives for countries that have not raised direct barriers to Russia to send and receive” money, said Veja, before making it clear Brazil was, in fact, one of those countries.
“There are ways to avoid SWIFT, such as paying the company you are doing business with into your Geneva account. Second, how the value arrives in Russia is not [through] the most transparent [channels], like tax havens. This process is not necessarily more expensive, but more laborious,” Amaral explained Veja.
When Iran was excluded from SWIFT due to its nuclear program, Brazilian foreign trade institutions were able to continue doing business through third countries. Today, there is also the possibility of making payments via cryptocurrencies, the magazine pointed out.
Topping trade between Brazil and Russia are agricultural fertilizers, on which Brazil is extremely dependent, while sales of meat and poultry from Brazil to Russia have increased recently.
Bolsonaro and Russian leader Vladimir Putin met in Moscow Feb. 16. The South American head of state praised his colleague for his conservative values and showed the two of them had many things in common. Bolsonaro was also very critical of Vice President Hamilton Mourao’s remarks that Brazil should align with the western powers against Russia, saying that according to the Constitution it is only up to the President to handle foreign relations.