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Brazil's Bolsonaro says deal close to buy cheaper diesel from Russia amid soaring fuel prices

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (file photo by AP)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says his country is close to a deal to buy much cheaper diesel from Russia, amid a global energy crisis in the wake of Western sanctions targeting Moscow over the its military offensive in neighboring Ukraine.

Bolsonaro, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, made the announcement on Monday, without providing any further details about the deal. Neither Bolsonaro's office, nor Brazil's Mining and Energy Ministry responded to requests from media outlets to comment on the development.

Soaring fuel prices due to the Ukrainian conflict have dashed Bolsonaro's re-election hopes prior to an October presidential vote, leaving the 67-year-old trailing left-wing former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the polls. 

Energy prices across the world have risen sharply since late February, when Russia launched its military campaign in Ukraine.

The European Union has sanctioned Russian oil and refined petroleum products. US President Joe Biden also signed an executive order to ban the import of Russian oil, liquefied natural gas and coal.

It remains unclear how Brazil would buy Russian diesel under the West-led sanctions regime against Moscow.

Defying US warnings and criticisms, Bolsonaro met with Putin just days before the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, and has since said his relationship with the Russian leader has allowed Brazil to maintain access to fertilizers that are crucial for the country's vast agribusiness sector.

Russia launched the military operation in Ukraine on February 24, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow’s recognition of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia has time and again said the Western flood of weapons will not force Moscow to end the operation before achieving its objectives. The Kremlin has also warned that the unprecedented sanctions against Russia, plus the flow of arms into Ukraine, would only prolong the ongoing war.

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