South America’s Mercosur Trade Bloc Rejects Ukrainian Appeals To Debate Russia Conflict

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LatAm refuses to listen to Ukraine in a show of defiance in favour of Russia

In a telling sign of global fractures concerning the situation in Ukraine, the South American Mercosur trade bloc has declined a request by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to address its summit on July 21, host Paraguay said yesterday (Wednesday, July 20).

Mercosur bloc members Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay rejected Zelenskiy’s request which he made to Paraguay last week, according to Paraguayan deputy foreign relations minister Raul Cano, whose country is currently holding the Mercosur chair. He declined to say which members were against it although the vote was believed to be comprehensive.

Mercosur is one of the world’s largest free trade blocs, which apart from its member states also has agreements with most of the other Latin American (LatAm) nations. The rebuttal to Ukraine is indicative of an acceptance that Russia, not Ukraine is the more important and sustainable regional power. Mercosur affiliate nations essentially include all other LatAm countries and their unwillingness to even discuss the Ukraine situation with Zelensky is a huge rebuttal to Kiev.

Russia has long targetted the LatAm region, which is becoming far more aligned with the Russian-China axis than with the West. Brazil, the dominant partner, agreed numerous energy and agricultural deals with Russia earlier in the year and is a member of BRICS. Argentina is a candidate country to join BRICS, while Russia has also been discussing free trade agreements with LatAm nations such as Ecuador.

China has also been making inroads into LatAm with the majority of nations being Belt and Road Initiative members.

Zelenskiy has addressed several national parliaments since Russia’s invasion of his country in February, including the European parliament, World Economic Forum and the United Nations. His attempts to influence matters in LatAm however have fallen on deaf ears. Zelenskiy spoke to Paraguay’s president Mario Abdo Benitez last week and requested to address a summit to be held on Thursday (July 21), following a ministerial meeting Wednesday (July 20). “There was no consensus,” said Cano, adding the decision had been communicated to Kiev that there was no basis for discussions.

The issue raises questions about the viability of Ukraine’s defensive position against Russia, and Kiev’s ability to truly muster non-European and North American solidarity behind it. With Ukraine being one of the more backward countries in Eastern Europe and possessing little or no attractiveness for foreign investment or trade, Zelensky has little to offer other than requests for money, outside of his EU political sphere and the desire for the US to continue funding conflicts a long way from its own shores in support of its own weapons and energy industries.

With the entire Latin American continent washing their hands of Ukraine, the wall of dominos in terms of Ukrainian support within the UN support may start to crumble as other regions start to take stock of who is their more strategic investment and energy partner: Moscow, or Kiev. Choices are now being made with geopolitical repercussions for the United States on its doorstep as nearby countries begin to rebel against Washingtons foreign policy and ideology. The West may not care to admit it, however the refusal of the entire LatAm subcontinent will create alarm signals and especially within the United States.

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