Brazil is looking to buy as much diesel as it can from Russia and some of the deals were being closed “as recently as yesterday,” Brazilian Foreign Minister Carlos Franca said on Tuesday, without giving further details on the transactions.
“We have to make sure that we have enough diesel to the Brazilian agribusiness and, of course, for Brazilian drivers,” Franca told reporters during a visit to the United Nations in New York. “So that’s why we were looking for safe and very reliable suppliers of diesel – Russia is one of them.”
Brazil is looking to buy “as much as we can” from Russia, he said.
It was not immediately clear how Brazil would buy Russian diesel without coming up against Western sanctions, imposed on Moscow over its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.
When asked if there had been any Western pushback over the plan to buy diesel from Russia, Franca said: “I don’t think so.”
“Russia is a strategic partner of Brazil. We are partners at BRICS,” he said, referring to the group comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, a bloc seen as a powerful emerging-market alternative to the West.
“We rely heavily on fertilizers exported from Russia and from Belarus as well. And of course, Russia it’s a great provider of oil and gas. You can ask Germany about that. Can ask Europe about that. So Brazil, we are in short supply of this,” he said.
Later on Tuesday, people familiar with the matter told Reuters the Brazilian government organized two meetings between at least three Russian diesel exporters and fuel distributors in Brazil. The people said the meetings were also attended by Russia’s ambassador to Brazil, Alexey Kazimirovitch Labetskiy.
According to one of the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the talks between exporters and distributors were led by Brazil’s energy and foreign affairs ministries, and the objective was to reassure participating companies that they would not be the target of international sanctions if they did business with Russian suppliers.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday that a deal was close with Moscow to buy much cheaper diesel, in what would appear to be the latest tangible benefit stemming from his friendly relationship with President Vladimir Putin.
High fuel prices have hurt Bolsonaro’s re-election hopes ahead of an October vote, leaving him trailing in polls to leftist former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (Reporting by Michelle Nichols at United Nations and Kanishka Singh in Washington; Additional reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier and Rafaella Barros; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Christopher Cushing)