Ukraine’s president has criticized politicians who seek “a kind of populism” by rejecting his country’s peace efforts.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Mexican lawmakers to support his country’s war against invading Russian forces, and rebuked those he accused of denying Ukraine’s quest for peace.
“There are some leaders who have never been to Ukraine and have not seen what Russia’s brutal aggression has brought,” Zelensky told the Mexico-Ukraine Friendship Group via video link on Thursday.
He added that some of these leaders sought to “achieve a kind of populism” by saying that “Ukraine is supposedly not ready to go for peace”.
The speech was Zelensky’s first address to Mexican lawmakers since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
This followed controversial comments from Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who attributed the war to “decisions made by two countries” – apparently Ukraine’s involvement in Russia’s decision to invade.
Lula retracted those comments on Wednesday, denouncing the “violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity”. Brazil sought to position itself as a peace broker between Russia and Ukraine.
Likewise, Mexico has indicated that it will remain neutral in the war in Ukraine, refusing to join the sanctions against Russia.
Nevertheless, Mexico supported several UN resolutions in favor of Ukraine, including a condemnation of Russia’s attack in March 2022 and a text in October condemning the “attempted illegal annexation of territory”.
In Thursday’s speech, Zelensky thanked Mexico for its support at the United Nations. But he pressed Mexican lawmakers to show “leadership” in pursuit of peace and push Russia to withdraw its forces.
“I think with Mexico’s help, this can be much faster,” Zelensky said. He renewed his call to the countries of the region to hold a summit on this issue.
He said, “Ukraine has already proposed to the Latin American community to organize a special summit and show its unity and position on the important universal principles of territorial integrity, peace and respect between peoples.”
Zelensky’s speech to Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the legislature, was broadcast at the invitation of the Congressional Friendship Group made up largely of politicians from opposition parties.
In the aftermath of the speech, Morena’s party, the leftist party of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, sought to distance itself from the broadcast.
“The meeting of the Mexican-Ukrainian Friendship Group does not represent a consensual position of the House of Representatives,” she wrote in a statement. However, some of the founding members of the Friendship Group hail from Morena’s party.
López Obrador criticized the efforts of the United States and its Western allies to supply weapons to Ukraine, summarizing their policy as follows: “I will provide them with weapons, and you supply the dead.”
In remarks last June, the Mexican president called the allies’ position “immoral,” though he avoided naming the United States or any other country specifically.
He also speculated at the time: “Couldn’t the war in Ukraine have been avoided? Of course it could.”
Zelensky’s speech on Thursday coincides with the end of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit across Latin America this week.
Lavrov met Brazilian Lula on Monday, visited Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on Wednesday, and was in Cuba to communicate with new President Miguel Diaz-Canel on Thursday.
In his speech Thursday, the Ukrainian president bemoaned companies and industries that wanted to “make millions by trading with Russia”.
“Unfortunately, the world is full of hypocrisy,” Zelensky said.
. “Proud zombie lover. Evil pop culture buff. Amateur thinker. Total food practitioner. Tv evangelist.”