A Nobel Peace Prize winner from South America has warned that the West’s heavy focus on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine risks alienating much of the rest of the world, which is dealing with the consequences of higher energy and food prices stemming from the war.
“Ukraine is sucking all the energy, when there are more than 100 conflicts currently in the world,” said Juan Manuel Santos, the former President of Colombia.
“There is a dissonance here” with the global south, he said. “And if this war prolongs itself, the risk of finding less and less support for it is very real.” Santos spoke to The New York Times on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
He said that he told Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, during a visit to Kyiv in August “that you have to do more outside Europe to find and maintain support in Latin America and Africa”.
Santos said that there is general recognition that Russia is the aggressor in Ukraine. “But realities change the perceptions of people,” he went on.
“They’re concerned about the price of oil and lack of food. And when you say that, well, ‘Brazil can invade Colombia,’ they laugh, because it’s a hypothetical. They want their food.” The focus on Ukraine has also taken attention away from fighting climate change, Santos said.