Publication: Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 11

During a January 14 meeting in the Kremlin between Presidents Fernando Cardoso of Brazil and Vladimir Putin of Russia, the two sides also underscored the extent to which they hold similar positions on a number of important international security issues. Perhaps most important for Brazil, Putin offered Russia’s official support for long-standing Brazilian efforts to win a seat as a permanent UN Security Council member. Russia is the first of the council’s existing five permanent members to endorse Brasilia’s candidacy, and that endorsement could earn Moscow some diplomatic capital in Brazil. At the same time, commentators and officials from the two countries went out of their way to emphasize the similarities that they say exist between Brazil and Russia–as two rising regional powers with a perceived increasing role to play in international affairs–and the benefits that might come from working together on important global issues. It is on this basis, in part, that a “strategic partnership” between the two countries could ultimately evolve, officials from the two countries suggested.

Cardoso, moreover, appeared to take a swipe indirectly at the United States and to embrace some ideas that had been much in vogue not too long ago in Moscow. The Brazilian president said that the two countries favored the creation of a “multipolar” world order, one that envisages equality among nations and a strengthening of the UN’s role in international affairs and, especially, in the battle with terrorism. Moscow had long been the international community’s most energetic proselytizer of the “multipolar world” idea, by which the Kremlin meant the creation of a global order in which regional powers balanced the influence of the United States and NATO. And although Russian officials have more recently distanced themselves from that formulation, they have continued, as Cardoso did this week, to talk about the importance of strengthening the UN and of ensuring that it has the final say in how the international battle against terrorism is to be conducted. Washington, of course, has little enthusiasm for this idea, seeing it as a ploy by which Russia and other international actors hope to exert some control over the U.S. conduct of its antiterror war (Financial Times, January 14; Reuters, January 12, 14; AP, January 14; BBC, January 14; Moscow Times, January 15; Strana.ru, January 13-14; Interfax, January 14-15).

Just how quickly relations between Russia and Brazil are to progress, and whether declaratory statements like those made this week will be fleshed outwith increased cooperation on concrete issues, should become clearer later this year when Putin embarks on a visit of his own to Brazil. In the meantime, his talks this week with Cardoso open a period of intensive personal diplomacy for the Russian president. Putin departed for Paris yesterday for what will be a very brief stop in the French capital, and then will travel on to Warsaw for two days of talks with Polish leaders (Moscow Times, AFP, January 15).