Why Bolsonaro might need to think twice about supporting Putin

Even though Brazil condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine During the March 2 United Nations General Assembly vote, his position appeared at odds with Bolsonaro’s, which he had advocated just days earlier stated that Brazil should remain neutralciting the Importance of Russian fertilizers as a reason for his position.

“We have to be very responsible because we have special agreements with Russia. Brazil is dependent on fertilizers,” he told the press, noting that “the issue of fertilizers is sacred.” Bought Brazil Fertilizers from Russia worth $3.5 billion in 2021, accounting for 23% of total imports, making Russia its main source of fertilizers.

Bolsonaro also used the situation to do so Press for passing a bill that would allow “the exploitation of minerals, water and organic resources on indigenous lands,” arguing that it would solve Brazil’s dependence on Russian potash. It was also revealed that Bolsonaro used his trip to Russia to ask Putin for assistance in advancing Brazil’s nuclear submarine projectafter the US refused to cooperate after lengthy negotiations.

But Bolsonaro’s real interest in an alliance with Putin probably goes beyond fertilizers and nuclear submarines. To seasoned observers, he may be much more concerned with ensuring access to Russian disinformation networks ahead of October’s elections.

Russian participation in the 2016 US elections

Bolsonaro took one of his sons, Carlos, with him on his trip to Moscow as part of his presidential entourage. The presence of Carlos, a municipal councilor, caused outrage, prompting the Federal Court of Justice to examine the matter. His presence also raised concerns Carlo’s alleged involvement in the so-called “office of hate‘, a digital disinformation network linked to the Brazilian government. This suggests that Bolsonaro has cyberstrategic interests in Russia – as a former Brazilian congressman Jean Wyllys argued in his openDemocracy video column.

Bolsonaro has denied the existence of this “digital militia”allegedly spreading fake news from the presidential palace, and currently is examined by the federal police. claimed Bolsonaro he needed Carlos in Russia to manage its online presence. “He helps me a lot with social media […] He’s doing an exceptional job, hence the witch hunt against him. Hence the invention of the ‘Office of Hate,'” he said on his weekly live stream on Feb. 24.

In view of Russia’s participation in the 2016 US electionit is not surprising that Bolsonaro is interested in friendly relations with Putin. Russia hacked the campaign of Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton and spread propaganda via the internet and social media.

Bolsonaro used similar tactics – possibly aided by the same agents – during his presidential bid in 2018. Bolsonaro’s son Eduardo, a congressman, claimed they did so the help of former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, whom he met extensively throughout the campaign. However, Bannon denied any involvement declared his support for Bolsonarocalled him “brilliant” and “demanding”.

The extensive is independent of any formal association Connections between the Bolsonaros and Bannon show that the man who helped bring Trump into the White House gave at least “informal advice” to the family. Last August, Eduardo met Bannon in the US, a meeting that brought them both together confirmed a partnership to re-elect Bolsonaro this year.

Similar philosophies

Despite the historical differences and geographical distance between Russia and Brazil, their current leaders share similar philosophies. Both Putin and Bolsonaro see themselves as “strong men” and both seem fascinated by what their countries used to be. Putin is increasingly obsessed with the restoration of Russia to its former glory. And while Brazil did not revel in the same greatness as the Soviet Union or the Russian Empire, Bolsonaro rose to power with promises that he would restore “order” to Brazil, a nod to the repressive military dictatorship that ruled between 1964 and 1985 .

just this week, Bolsonaro praised Colonel Carlos Brilhante Ustraa member of the military government who was in 2008 convicted of torture and kidnapping. It wasn’t the first time. Bolsonaro, a former army captain, has previously hailed the bloodthirsty colonel as a personal hero. This time he quoted Ustra while promoting the notion that he was engaged in a battle of “good versus evil,” not “right versus left.”

Putin has shown interest in strengthening alliances in Latin America – sometimes across ideological lines. Just days before Bolsonaro arrived, the The Kremlin hosted the Argentine PresidentAlberto Fernández, a left-wing politician and longtime Kirchnerist. Also in February, Russia sent its deputy prime minister Venezuela, Nicaragua and CubaCountries whose authoritarian, socialist governments have long looked to and depended on Moscow’s support.

However, it is unclear whether Russia will continue to invest in this rapprochement with Latin America given its mounting – and unexpected – difficulties in Ukraine.

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