Zelensky blocked from attending EU summit – after nation enjoys £7.4bn trade

Volodymyr Zelensky meets world leaders

Ukraine’s President Zelensky was left stunned after Latin American countries blocked his attendance at an upcoming EU summit with its leaders.

The heads of state and government of the 33 countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) are set to arrive in Brussels for a summit with their EU counterparts on July 17-18.

The Spanish Prime Minister extended an invitation to President Zelensky to attend the summit.

He thought the occasion would be a great opportunity for the region to understand Ukraine’s version of the war and for Kyiv to forge closer economic ties with Latin American countries.

However, several Latin American leaders objected strongly to Zelensky’s presence at the summit, forcing the Ukrainian president to pull out.

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President Zelensky thanked the Spanish Prime Minister for his offer, saying: “He invited me, but some Latin American leaders blocked this invitation.”

He expressed a willingness to visit Latin America and Spain at some time in the near future.

Spanish officials tried to play down the snub, insisting the focus of the summit was always going to be on EU-Latin America relations.

They said: “This summit is mainly about relations between the European Union and Latin America.

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“It has not been held for eight years, and the focus needs to be EU-Latin American relations.”

Many Latin American countries enjoy good political and economic relations with Russia and are keen not to upset the Kremlin.

Brazil, in particular, has seen its commercial ties with Moscow grow strongly, achieving a record US$9.8 billion in bilateral trade last year.

Other countries suspected of being within the Russian orbit include Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, as well as Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela.

Latin American leaders were also reported to have “thrown cold water” on the EU’s efforts to unite the continent in its support of Ukraine.

Brussels had intended to issue a summit declaration text, that would have included several paragraphs of support for Ukraine, referencing the UN General Assembly’s resolutions, according to three people familiar with the document.

“The text on Ukraine was very balanced,” one EU diplomat told EURACTIV.

“There is nothing special about anything we sent them,” a second EU diplomat added.

However, Latin American countries “deleted everything about Ukraine”, a third EU diplomat complained after seeing the counter-proposal.

Brazil’s President Lula da Silva has attempted to spearhead his own peace plan for Ukraine.

Senior Brazilian officials joined counterparts from Ukraine, the G7, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey last month to discuss efforts to bring different perspectives together.

Additional reporting Maria Ortega.

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