Lula refuses to send ammunition from Brazil to tanks in

Lula refuses to send ammunition from Brazil to tanks in Ukraine

President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (PT) turned down a federal government request for Brazil to supply tank ammunition that would be passed from Berlin to Ukraine at war with Russia.

The decision was made on the 20th at the PT’s meeting with the heads of the armed forces and Defense Minister José Múcio. It was the eve of the resignation of the commander of the army, Júlio Cesar de Arruda.

The general put the proposal up for discussion and showed that Prime Minister Olaf Scholz’s efforts to put together an aid package in the field of heavy armored vehicles for Kyiv are more comprehensive than previously announced.

After weeks of pressure from the US and Western allies, Scholz decided this week to send a contingent of 14 Leopard 2 tanks and, more importantly, to open arms reexport to anyone who wants to donate them to Ukraine 12 countries in Europe operates about 2,300 armored vehicles of this type. The premier is coming to Brazil next week to meet Lula.

According to military officials and politicians with knowledge of the episode, Arruda said Brazil would pocket around R$25 million for a shipment of ammunition stockpiled for its Leopard 1 tanks, the model that preceded the tank desired by Volodimir Zelenski’s government . He considered asking Berlin not to send the product to Kyiv, which would make no sense.

Lula denied this, arguing that it wasn’t worth provoking the Russians. Although Brazil has condemned the invasion at the United Nations that began on February 24, 2022, it maintains a neutral position on economic grounds and refuses to participate in sanctions against President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Scholz is scheduled to meet with the President next Monday (30).

The demand for Leopard 1 ammunition indicates that Berlin is ready to offer the old model, of which the manufacturer Rheinmetall has 88 pieces in stock. They would need to be readied for deployment, which the company president says could take all year, but the main problem today is ammunition.

The Leopard1 is operated only by Brazil (261 units, according to the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London), Chile (30), Greece (500) and Turkey (397) the last two, NATO members, military Allianz West, as well as Germany. The tank has an old standard 105mm caliber gun, while the Leopard 2 uses 120mm ammunition.

It wasn’t the first deal of its kind. Last year, Germany unofficially asked the government to buy ammunition for the Gepard antiaircraft tank, which it had taken out of retirement to send to Ukraine, to no avail. Brazil still operates the model.

THE Sheet asked Itamaraty, Ministry of Defense and Army, munitions operator, for an opinion and to indicate the nature of the request: whether it was official or investigative. The defense said it had not received an export license application, which first goes through the Foreign Office which, like the Army, did not respond. The details presented by Arruda at the meeting indicate that the matter is advanced.

The rapporteur tried unsuccessfully to contact the German embassy.

In 2022, Jair Bolsonaro’s (PL) government rejected requests from the Ukrainian government to negotiate the acquisition of other systems, such as a batch of 100 to 1,500 Guarani armored vehicles to be manufactured in Brazil by Italy’s Iveco.

Brazil is not alone with its new rejection. The US asked the new Colombian government of Gustavo Petro to cede old Soviet Mi8 and Mi17 helicopters to Kyiv, which operates these models.

They took a no reported Petro this week, as well as the American ally Israel refused to release a batch of Hawk antiaircraft missiles. Tel Aviv apologized that the material was old and unreliable, but the fact that the government has a close, if not always friendly, relationship with Moscow weighed in.

Fertilizers motivate Brazil

The central motivation behind Lula’s position has a name: fertilizers, which are vital to the country’s agribusiness and largely have to be imported. Russia has been a leader in this market for years from 2018 to 2022 it sold an average of 22% of the product consumed by Brazilians.

Last year, Western embargoes halted insurers and shipping companies from doing business with Russian shipments, and alternative routes were created until a wartime deal to export grain from Ukraine should reopen the market to Moscow — but Russia is suing. that the West is not doing its part.

The result was an increase in international prices, visible in Brazil: although 8 million tons of fertilizers were imported from Moscow, 1.3 million tons less than in 2021, Russian profits increased by 58.8% over the period Record $5.6 billion sold to Brazilians.

This scenario shifted the result of the trade balance with Russia in favor of the Kremlin, according to the Foreign Trade Secretariat. Compared to 2021, Brazil bought a total of 37% more from Moscow in 2022, for a total of $7.8 billion. The Russians are sixth in the ranking of the countries that have sold the most to Brazil. As for exports, they bought just $1.9 billion worth of Brazilian products.

Despite the pressure of sanctions, Russia managed to weather the crisis in 2022. Selling oil and gas at a discount since the gradual closure of the priority market in Europe, China and India have multiplied trade with the country.

Ukraine, of course, condemns this relationship and accuses the countries of financing Russian aggression. Zelenski even complained about Brazil’s position, especially that of the then mandate holder Jair Bolsonaro (PL).

While still president, Bolsonaro paid a controversial visit to Russia the week before the conflict, issuing statements refusing to take sides which, incidentally, is the Itamaraty’s historic position.

Lula also condemned the war in interviews without taking a stand against Putin, earning him a place on the Ukrainian government’s list of Russian propaganda disseminators. Subsequently, the name of Petista was retired.

The Russians thanked the Brazilian position, and Putin even said so Sheet before the second round in October, which would work very well with both Lula and the finally defeated opponent.