Some Latin American nations call for Russian withdrawal from Ukraine

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BOGOTA/BUENOS AIRES/SANTIAGO  (Reuters) – Colombia, Argentina and Chile on Thursday called for swift withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, as other Latin American countries rejected the use of force but stopped short of calling for a Russian exit.

Russia invaded Ukraine by land, sea and air in the early morning, in the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War Two. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the attack is an effort to ‘denazify’ Ukraine. 

“We categorically reject war and we join all the voices of the international community who today clamor for the speedy withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory,” Colombia’s centre-right President Ivan Duque said in a video statement.

“This premeditated and unjustified aggression is a threat to world peace,” he said. Vice-President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucia Ramirez branded the invasion “absurd colonialist nostalgia” on Twitter.

Argentina’s foreign ministry in a statement called on Russia to cease military actions in Ukraine, while Chile said it would support sanctions approved by the United Nations Security Council.

“Our country calls for Russia to withdraw its troops and especially for it to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” Chile’s Foreign Minister Carolina Valdivia said.

Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Holguin also condemned Russia, saying it had violated international law, and called for an end to fighting.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who recently met with Putin in Moscow, did not mention the Ukraine crisis in a Thursday address to supporters. Bolsonaro came under strong U.S. criticism for saying during his visit that he was “in solidarity with Russia,” without elaborating. 

But his Vice President Hamilton Mourao said economic sanctions may not be enough and the West may need to use force against Russia.

Mourao’s comments went well beyond a statement by the foreign ministry calling for a halt to Russian hostilities and saying it would act as a member of the Security Council to find a peaceful solution.

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez has also recently visited Moscow, prompting some analysts to suggest Russia has courted Latin America amid the Ukraine tensions.

Some Latin American countries were less pointed in their criticism.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called for dialogue, while Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard later took a tougher stance, condemning the invasion and demanding Russia end its military operations in Ukraine.

Peru’s foreign ministry expressed concern and appealed for an end to hostilities, and Paraguay’s foreign minister urged dialogue and a ceasefire.

Russia’s strongest allies in the region – Cuba and Venezuela – had yet to directly address the invasion early on Thursday morning.

Venezuela’s foreign minister Felix Plasencia on Wednesday backed Putin’s fight against what he said was North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) desire for war.

Cuba on Wednesday criticized the United States for imposing “the progressive expansion of NATO towards the borders of the Russian Federation” and called for a diplomatic solution. 

(Reporting by Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota, Adam Jourdan in Buenos Aires and Fabian Cambero in Santiago, additional reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia and Gabriel Stargardter in Rio de Janeiro, Dave Sherwood in Havana, Ana Isabel Martinez and Daina Beth Solomon in Mexico City, Vivian Sequera in Caracas, Marco Aquino in Lima, Alexandra Valencia in Quito and Daniela Desantis in Asuncion; Editing by Diane Craft and Kenneth Maxwell)

Photo – Ukrainians living in Mexico, accompanied by sympathizers, participate in a protest to reject Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, outside the Russian embassy in Mexico City, Mexico. EPA/EFE Isaac Esquivel

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