lula

Brazilian presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called out U.S. President Joe Biden in two campaign speeches this week, citing the $40 billion in military aid Washington has pledged to Ukraine.

“Biden, who has never made a speech to give $1 to those who are starving in Africa, announces $40 billion to help Ukraine buy weapons,” Lula said on Wednesday in Porto Alegre. “This can’t be!” he added.

Lula, the 76-year-old is the candidate of the leftist Party of Workers (PT), and currently the favorite to win the presidential election in October, is polling far ahead of the incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro, in the upcoming presidential election. The most recent polls by Datafolha show Lula with a 21-point lead over Bolsonaro.

Scouring The Globe For Baby Formula

Speaking in Sao Paulo on Tuesday, Lula brought up the $40 billion in another context. How is it possible, he asked, that the world’s supposedly strongest economy is reduced to scouring the globe for baby formula – amid shortages in the U.S. – even as Biden pledges billions in weapons sales to Kiev?

About half of the $40 billion package is directly earmarked for U.S. weapons headed to Ukraine, while the rest would fund the government in Kiev, replenish the depleted Pentagon stockpiles, and fund U.S. military deployments in Europe.

Biden signed on May 21 after both chambers of Congress passed it with token Republican opposition. The physical bill was flown to Asia, where Biden was visiting at the time, so he could formally attach his signature.

Lula has previously criticized Biden over the conflict in Ukraine, saying the U.S. leader could have prevented it, but instead chose to give a blank check to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“The United States has a lot of political clout. And Biden could have avoided [the conflict], not incited it,” Lula said in an interview with Time magazine in early May.

“And now we are going to have to foot the bill because of the war on Ukraine. Argentina, Bolivia will also have to pay. You are not punishing Putin. You are punishing many different countries, you are punishing mankind,” he added.

Lula was president of Brazil from 2003 to 2010 and remains one of the most popular Brazilian politicians ever. He was convicted on corruption charges and jailed in 2018 – during the interim presidency that had impeached his successor, Dilma Rousseff – but the conviction was annulled in 2021. The Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that Lula did not receive a fair trial, and cleared him to run for office again.

The Guardian Admits Russia Is Winning Economic Warfare

An analysis by The Guardian, a famous British newspaper, admits that the economic war launched by the West against Russia is not going as planned.

The British daily has urged Europeans to sit down at the dialogue table with Moscow.
Despite the fact that more than three months have passed since the West declared an economic war against Russia in retaliation for its military operation in Ukraine, things are not going according to plan, British newspaper The Guardian reported Thursday.

“The perverse effects of the sanctions have led to a rise in the cost of Russian oil and gas exports, boosting its trade balance enormously and financing its war effort,” the analysis said.

The article confirms that, in the first four months of 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin could boast a current account surplus of $96 billion, more than three times the figure for the same period last year.

The British daily pointed out that the partial ban on Russian oil exports caused the price of crude oil to rise on world markets, providing the Kremlin with another financial windfall.
The article added that Russia will have no difficulty in finding new markets for its energy, as last April, its oil and gas exports to China increased by 50% compared to 2021.

As a result of the energy sanctions against Russia, The Guardian has pointed out, most Western countries have registered slow economic growth and high inflation, as well as an increase in unemployment, since the economy of these countries depends on gas imported from Russia.

According to the newspaper, modern U.S. military technology, energy restrictions and the seizure of Russian assets have failed to force President Putin to withdraw his troops from Ukraine.

EU Sanctions on Russia Fuel High Inflation, Add Internal Rifts

The decision by the EU earlier this week to ban 90 percent of oil imports from Russia by the end of the year is aimed at crimping the Russian economy amid the high-profile crisis in Ukraine.

But the move, part of a wider array of sanctions, is also likely to result in still higher energy prices, while exposing political rifts within the 27-nation bloc, experts said.

The European leaders’ move covers only seaborne imports of Russian oil, allowing a temporary exception for pipeline oil. This carve-out from the ban benefits Hungary, a land-locked EU member state that gets almost all of its crude from Russia via pipelines.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said that despite the exemption granted to Hungary, the prohibition would still cover the bulk of Russian oil imports to the EU.

But the move comes at a cost. According to official data from the Commission, consumer prices in the eurozone rose by a record 8.1 percent in May on the heels of a 7.4 percent increase the previous month.

The most significant factors contributing to the dramatic increase in prices, according to economists, were directly or indirectly related to energy costs: transport, industry, agriculture and supply chain issues.

Cutting off most Russian oil imports is likely to put more upward pressure on prices, according to many analysts.

The European leaders’ decision has already sent oil futures higher, with contracts for July deliveries surging 3.5 percent on Monday, the day when the Commission made its announcement.

But the exemption made for energy-poor Hungary is also evidence of growing rifts between the EU member states, according to media reports. The decision could incentivize other countries to seek out special exemptions on future decisions.

Joining Hungary, Italy and the Czech Republic also broke from most of the pack in the EU in calling for a negotiated settlement to the Ukraine conflict rather than a policy focused mostly on continuing to provide funds and arms for Ukraine.

That stance did not prevent European leaders from agreeing this week to provide an additional 9 billion euros (9.6 billion U.S. dollars) in financing for Ukraine.

The latest round of sanctions will also include a freeze on Russian assets outside the country and will exclude Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, from the international SWIFT transfer system.

Some Russian broadcasters were also blocked from distributing their content commercially in the EU.

The moves were legally endorsed by all 27 EU member states on Wednesday.

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, called this week’s agreement a “remarkable achievement.”

But analysts said that with the growing disagreements between member states, it may be more difficult to gain full agreement for future rounds of sanctions against Russia.


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