Most Brazilians Are Not Aligned With Lula da Silva’s Approach to the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

The Brazilian president’s conciliatory tone toward Russia contrasts strongly with that of his constituents, Morning Consult survey data shows
May 10, 2023 at 5:00 am UTC

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Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva raised eyebrows in Washington and allied capitals on his recent international tour by calling for the United States to “stop encouraging war” with its support for Ukraine, but a recent Morning Consult survey shows Brazilians overwhelmingly blame Moscow for the violence.

Brazilians Overwhelmingly Blame Russia for Starting War in Ukraine

Share of respondents who say either Russia or NATO is more responsible for starting the war in Ukraine
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Surveys conducted in April among representative samples of at least 1,000 adults in each country with unweighted margins of error of +/- 2 to 3 percentage points. Don’t know/No opinion responses are not shown.

Most Brazilians blame Russia for the war

  • A 62% majority of Brazilian adults say Russia is more responsible for starting the war, while just 17% blame NATO, according to a Morning Consult survey conducted April 24-27. Brazilian adults are even less likely to say NATO bears more responsibility for the war than adults in Germany (21%), which is a key alliance member.
  • In fact, Brazilian views of culpability for the war are similar to those in Germany and Japan, and actually somewhat more lopsided against Russia than those in South Korea. Nonetheless, Brazil is the only one of those four countries that has provided no material aid to Kyiv.

The Brazilian public isn’t soft on Putin

The survey suggests Brazilian adults are not in lockstep with Lula’s more conciliatory position toward Russia. Lula has said Russia and Ukraine bear equal responsibility for the war, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in April praised Brazil’s approach to the conflict.

More than 3 in 5 Brazilian adults (63%) say the world would be a better place if President Vladimir Putin was out of office, and roughly two-thirds (67%) say he should face international trial for war crimes.

Brazil hasn’t joined Western countries in imposing sanctions on Russia, but most Brazilians back them: Roughly 2 in 5 (41%) say sanctions should remain in place until Russian troops withdraw from Ukraine, and another 24% say they should not be lifted until Putin is no longer in power. Only 12% of Brazilian adults say such sanctions should be lifted immediately.

However, Brazilians are more divided on whether the war is a matter that affects Brazil itself. A plurality of 38 percent say the war is important for democracies everywhere, including in Brazil,  while a quarter say that while the war is important, the conflict should not affect their country. An additional 13% say the conflict is unimportant in the global context.

Brazilians’ Views of War in Ukraine Largely Align With Those of Ukraine’s Allies

Share of respondents who approve or disapprove of the following figures’ and institutions’ handling of foreign policy in Ukraine and Eastern Europe…
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Surveys conducted in April among representative samples of at least 1,000 adults in each country with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 to 3 percentage points.

In Brazil and U.S., similar views of key players in Ukraine 

  • The shares of Brazilian adults who approve of U.S. President Joe Biden’s and Putin’s handling of foreign policy in Ukraine are within 1 point of U.S. voters’ views of the two leaders. Brazilians’ views of how the United Nations, European Union and NATO are handling the war are also broadly similar to public opinion in the United States.  
  • Compared to Brazilians, German, Japanese and South Korean adults are all more likely to approve of Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but the balance in all four countries is heavily pro-Western. 
  • Where Brazilians do differ notably is in views of Zelenskyy, with 46% expressing approval compared with 55% in Germany, South Korea and the United States and 57% in Japan. Of the five countries, Brazilians are also the most likely to disapprove of the Ukrainian leader (29%).

Surveys conducted April 8-9, 2023, in the United States, April 21-23, 2023, in Germany and South Korea and April 24-27, 2023, in Brazil and Japan, among representative samples of at least 1,000 adults in each country with unweighted margins of error of +/-2 to 3 percentage points.

A headshot photograph of Matthew Kendrick
Matthew Kendrick
Data Reporter

Matthew Kendrick previously worked at Morning Consult as a data reporter covering geopolitics and foreign affairs.

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