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Mexico's Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro and Venezuela's Nicolás Maduro were just three of many LATAM leaders to respond to Russia's Ukraine invasion. Photos: Getty Images.

Latin American leaders react to Russian invasion of Ukraine

Leaders of the Latin American world are sharing their thoughts and responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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By the dawn of Thursday, Feb. 24, Russian forces had invaded Ukraine, attacking civilians and Ukrainian troops alike. One young boy is believed to be among the casualties.

Russian President Vladamir Putin is claiming an intention to “demilitarize and de-Nazify” Ukraine as the reason behind his invasion.

Putin is driven by a cited “genocide” carried out by Ukraine in its eastern provinces, NATO’s policy towards Russia, and dismissal by Western leaders of the former conflict.

As Ukrainian citizens attempt to flee the country, motorways have become gridlocked, with train stations, bus stops, petrol stations, and ATMs receiving unmanageable influxes of traffic.

Martial law has now been declared as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has issued a call to arms to citizens.

Fear of courtships

In Latin America, some worry courtships have been carried out by Russia. 

On Feb. 7, Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, who are both Cuban-American, introduced a bill intended to counter Russian and Chinese interference in Latin America. The bill would increase cooperation in hemispheric security.

Putin met with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Moscow on Feb 16., going against requests from American officials not to do so. 

Bolsonaro has not shared his thoughts on Thursday’s invasion, but has stated concern over the safety of Brazilians in Ukraine.

Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao, however, did publicly condemn the invasion. Mourao instead called sanctions too weak of a punishment, and suggested force may need to be used.

President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández also recently visited Russia and China. His visit was due to a benefactor search, a potential result of Argentina’s International Monetary Fund debt. Argentina has been cut off by international capital markets. 

“I’m determined that Argentina must stop being so dependent on the Fund and the United States. That is where it seems to me Russia has a very important place,” Fernández was reported to have told Putin.

Despite his previous remarks, Fernández publicly disapproved of Russia’s invasion, and asked for the country to cease their use of force. 

Latin American leaders respond

In addition to Fernández and Mourao, other Latin American leaders have shared their thoughts on Russia’s invasion. Prime Minister of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, also responded.

Sanchez warned of an economic hit reaching Russia, supporting sanctions against the country. 

In Madrid, during a televised address, Sanchez remarked: “We will take whatever measures are necessary to mitigate the economic impact, including the energy impact, of this crisis on Spanish society.”

Colombia, Uruguay, Mexico, Chile, and Ecuador have all disapproved of Russia’s actions, while Cuba and Venezuela have voiced their support for Russia going forward.

Venezuela shared criticism of the United States for Russian opposition, but concluded that Russia will prevail nevertheless. 

Cuba, meanwhile, criticized the U.S. for their Russian sanctions and for supplying Ukraine with arms.

Despite their support, Russia has threatened both Cuba and Venezuela with military deployment if the country deems it necessary.

Uruguay called the Russian move a violation of UN principles, while Mexico called for diplomacy in the matter, despite some believing Mexico and other’s responses were too weak.

Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador remarked, “We don't want invasions, we don't accept that a country invades another… it is contrary to international law.”

President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, shared similar sentiments of a need to abide by international law.

Ecuador responded by emphasizing the same aspects as Uruguay. 

“In this case in particular we will follow the lines set out by the UN,” said Guillermo Lasso, president of Ecuador.

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