Last Thursday, the day before the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, most of Latin America voted in favor of the United Nations General Assembly resolution that called for a cessation of hostilities and demanded that Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine.” The region’s support for the resolution, which passed overwhelmingly, represented a clear stand in favor of Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Russia retains a few allies in the Western Hemisphere. Nicaragua voted against the resolution. Bolivia, Cuba and El Salvador abstained, and Venezuela did not vote.* These ties have proved useful in Russia’s efforts to evade Western sanctions. The same networks of ghost ships and shell companies that have helped Venezuela launder its oil exports are now assisting Russia in selling its oil to China.
By contrast, the Latin American countries that voted in favor of last week’s resolution are not as beholden to Russia. But if their U.N. votes were cause for celebration, they were also a rare condemnation on their part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions, which over the past year have killed tens of thousands of Ukrainians and left millions displaced. While the United States, Canada and nearly all of Europe have demonstrated impressive solidarity and provided support for Ukraine following the invasion last year, Latin America’s largest countries have attempted to remain cautiously neutral. Some have even continued to cooperate and trade with Putin’s Russia.