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Ukraine’s Zelensky speaks to Mexico Congress, denounces critics | Russia-Ukraine war news

Ukraine’s president has slammed politicians seeking “some kind of populism” by dismissing his country’s quest for peace.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Mexican lawmakers to support his country’s fight against invading Russian troops, condemning those he accuses of denying Ukraine’s pursuit of peace.

“There are leaders who have not visited Ukraine even once and have not seen the consequences of Russia’s brutal aggression,” Zelensky told the Mexico-Ukraine Friendship Group via video on Thursday.

He added that some of those leaders were trying to “achieve some sort of populism” by saying “Ukraine should not be ready for peace”.

The speech was Zelensky’s first address to Mexican lawmakers since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

It came after controversial comments by Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva attributed the war to “decisions made by the two countries” – appearing to imply Ukraine’s alliance with Russia related to the invasion decision.

On Wednesday, Lula walked back those remarks, condemning “violations of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.” Brazil is trying to position itself as a peace broker between Russia and Ukraine.

Likewise, Mexico has said it will remain neutral in the ongoing war in Ukraine, refusing to join sanctions against Russia.

Still, Mexico has backed several U.N. resolutions in favor of Ukraine, including condemning a Russian attack in March 2022 and a text in October condemning an “attempted illegal annexation” of the territory.

In Thursday’s speech, Zelensky thanked Mexico for its support to the United Nations. But he urged Mexican lawmakers to show “leadership” in pursuing peace and pushing for a Russian withdrawal.

“I think with the help of Mexico, it could be done a lot faster,” Zelensky said. He reiterated his call for countries in the region to hold a summit on the issue.

“Ukraine has proposed to the Latin American community to organize a special summit and demonstrate its solidarity and position on important global principles such as territorial integrity, peace and respect among peoples,” he said.

Zelensky’s speech was broadcast in Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of its legislature, at the invitation of a friendly congressional group made up mostly of opposition politicians.

Following the speech, Morena, the leftist party of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, tried to distance himself from the broadcast.

“The meeting of the Mexico-Ukraine Friendship Group does not represent a consensus position in the lower house,” it wrote in a statement. However, some of the founding members of the friendship groups came from the Morena party.

López Obrador has been critical of efforts by the United States and its Western allies to supply Ukraine with arms, summing up their policy as: “I supply the weapons, you supply the dead.”

In a speech last June, Mexico’s president called the allies’ position “immoral,” but he avoided naming the United States or any other country specifically.

He also speculated at the time: “Isn’t the war in Ukraine already avoidable? Of course it can be.”

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on a green background
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been critical of Western allies for supplying Ukraine with weapons [File: Henry Romero/Reuters]

Zelensky’s remarks on Thursday coincided with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov wrapping up a trip to Latin America this week.

Lavrov met with Brazil’s Lula on Monday, visited Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on Wednesday and was in Cuba to connect with newly reelected President Miguel Díaz-Canel on Thursday.

In a speech on Thursday, the Ukrainian president lamented companies and industries that want to “earn millions of dollars from trade with Russia.”

“Unfortunately, the world is full of hypocrisy,” Zelensky said.

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