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straddling the fence

Jair Bolsonaro says Brazil 'will not take sides' between Russia and Ukraine

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday said his country will "not take sides" in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, saying he does not want to "bring more problems to Brazil."

A reporter asked the far-right politician if he would condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, and Bolsonaro replied that he won't share his opinion on the matter until he sees how the situation ultimately plays out. He called the two countries "practically brother nations," and said "a big part of Ukraine's population speaks Russian." Brazil, Bolsonaro stated, "will continue being neutral, and help with whatever is possible."

In Brazil, the agriculture industry relies on fertilizer from Russia, and Bolsonaro said he does not support any sanctions on business that could "bring serious harm" to his country. He met with Putin in Moscow on Feb. 16, despite Western countries warning of an impending invasion, and told reporters on Sunday he does not believe Putin wants "to undertake a massacre, anywhere" in Ukraine.

Bolsonaro did have harsh words for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was in the entertainment industry prior to taking office, declaring that Ukrainians "placed the hope of their nation in the hands of a comedian."