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Exclusive: Ukraine“s Zelenskiy to address Mexican lawmakers on Thursday

2023-04-20T04:51:51Z

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attends a joint news briefing with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki after an overview of polish made Rosomak armoured personnel carriers in Warsaw, Poland April 5, 2023. Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy will address Mexican lawmakers on Thursday by video, the lower house of Congress said, as he seeks support in his country’s war with Russia.

The Mexican government has said it wants to remain neutral in the conflict, and some supporters of Ukraine have criticized leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for taking issue with European arms shipments to Kyiv.

Still, Mexico has voted alongside the United States and other Western countries on a number of major U.N. resolutions critical of Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Congress said in a statement late on Wednesday that Zelenskiy would speak during a meeting of a lower house group promoting friendship between Mexico and Ukraine at 12:30 p.m. (1830 GMT), confirming a Reuters report that he would address lawmakers.

Zelenskiy’s address to the legislators comes at the invitation of the friendship group, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. There are other similar groups in the Mexican Congress, including one for Russia.

The Ukrainian embassy in Mexico did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The German president and the U.S. ambassador to Mexico have been among diplomatic allies who have sought to persuade the Mexican government to side with Ukraine against Russia.

Attempts to sway public opinion in Mexico over the war in Ukraine have led to some notable disputes in Congress.

Last year, the Russian ambassador to Mexico told lawmakers that Mexico would never take orders from “Uncle Sam”, prompting the U.S. ambassador to urge Mexico to support Ukraine.

Lopez Obrador last year proposed a plan to halt the fighting in Ukraine, although Ukrainian officials opposed it, arguing it would be advantageous to Russia.

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard met separately with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts to discuss the peace plan at the U.N. General Assembly in September. Nothing has come of it.

Zelenskiy has said he will only consider peace settlements after Russian troops leave Ukrainian territory.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is on a Latin American tour, visiting Brazil, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.