Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, don’t agree on much when it comes to foreign policy, even if they sometimes exhibit similar populist styles. Bolsonaro is a right-wing firebrand who rails against “socialism” and was a close regional ally of former U.S. President Donald Trump. As for AMLO, as Lopez Obrador is known, despite his fiscal and social conservatism domestically, he tends to lean left internationally. He is friends with Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and he provided asylum to former Bolivian President Evo Morales in 2019 when Morales fled his home country after a disputed election.
It’s notable, then, that both Bolsonaro and AMLO appear to agree on the issue of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both have remained relatively friendly with President Vladimir Putin. Both have avoided directly condemning Putin’s illegal and violent invasion of a sovereign nation in Europe as well as the many war crimes and human rights abuses that Russian forces have committed during that attack. Both have kept their governments from taking any concrete actions that would punish Russia’s imperialist violation of international rules and norms.
The two leaders’ support for Putin won’t help Russia win the war in Ukraine, avoid international condemnation or evade sanctions imposed by the vast majority of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s member states. It’s not even clear how much their personal goodwill toward Putin represents their own countries’ official positions, with both Mexico and Brazil having voted to condemn the invasion at the United Nations General Assembly.