The US ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, is not pleased that members of three Mexican political parties established a Mexico-Russia friendship group. Salazar lit into them and said this is not the time to show support for Russia, given Putin’s invasion into Ukraine.
Some deputies from the ruling Morena party, the Labor Party and the Institutional Revolutionary Party formally established a Mexico-Russia friendship group last week. Salazar spoke to the friendship group in the lower house of Congress the day after and said that the United States and Mexico must be united now as they were during World War II. He stressed that North American must be united against Putin.
“We have to be in solidarity with Ukraine and against Russia,” the ambassador said.
“I believe that the ambassador of Russia, who was here yesterday making noise, [said] that Mexico and Russia were very close. Sorry, that can never happen, it can never happen,” he told lower house lawmakers.
“In World War II there was no distance between Mexico and the United States, [we were] united against what Hitler and the others were doing to defeat humanity and freedom,” Salazar said.
He said the Russian invasion of Ukraine is something that he thought he would never see and warned that the war could affect.
“I’m asking you, the deputies who have so much strength … [to see] what Russia did in attacking Ukraine – it’s an attack against freedom and the way of life of all of us,” Salazar said.
“… There can’t be differences [between us]. We have to do the same thing that the two countries did in the time of World War II,” he reiterated.
You have to admit the timing is not good. Why form a friendship group while Russia is at war in Ukraine? Why fall for any propaganda put out by the Russian ambassador? Putin will spin it as support for his invasion of Ukraine but one of the Mexican leaders said that this is not the case. He said Salazar is making the wrong assumption. Morena lower house leader Ignacio Mier Velazco said Mexico’s position was being distorted.
“We’ve vigorously condemned [the invasion],” he said, asserting that the creation of a friendship group didn’t change Mexico’s position.
“[Mexico] condemns the invasion of one country by another because Mexico has experienced this historically,” Mier said, citing 19th century French intervention and the 16th century Spanish conquest.
Did Ambassador Salazar step out of bounds in his rebuke? Maybe, but I’d rather he call out such a friendly alliance at this time, a time of war in Ukraine at the hands of Putin, than to turn a blind eye and act as though an alliance like this isn’t being formed. It’s a slippery slope and of course, Mexico makes its own decisions, but Salazar is right to speak out in support of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Mexico slammed the group, too. Ambassador Oksana Dramaretska said that the group is expressing support for Putin while his invasion into her country is underway. Their show of support is to “participate in a crime.”
The group that formed at an event attended by Russian Ambassador Viktor Koronelli is a small one, most deputies of the three political parties didn’t join, but clearly she wants to nip it in the bud just as Salazar did. “It’s a disgrace,” Oksana Dramaretska told Milenio Television in an interview. “… To support Putin, declare support for Putin in these times, is to participate in a crime.”
In another interview, this one with Radio Fórmula, Dramaretska said the Mexicans were offering friendship to a criminal regime.
“To support the murderers … is to participate in their crimes,” she said. Putin is “a criminal, a person who seems crazy,” the diplomat said.
“What can I say? This brutal, unjustified war, unleashed by Putin’s criminal regime against the Ukrainian people, has already lasted for 29 days. They’re killing our people, destroying our cities,” Dramaretska said.
The ambassador said she understands that Mexico is not sending weapons to Ukraine because of its non-interventionist foreign policy but she does encourage Mexico to inpose sanctions on Russia and stop doing business as usual with them.
According to data from the National Immigration Institute (INM) the average number of Ukrainians entering Mexico per month has more than doubled this year likely due to the war in Ukraine. No Ukrainian citizens have sought asylum in Mexico for humanitarian reasons related to war. We know, though, that they are traveling through Mexico and going to the southern border of the United States. The number of Russians coming to the US border has also increased this year.