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Is Mexico trying to have it both ways with Russia ‘friendship’?

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
A group of representatives has installed a Mexico-Russia friendship panel in an attempt to find a diplomatic solution to the escalating conflict in Ukraine. Photo: Courtesy

Since the outset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the stance of Mexico’s government has been to call out Russia as the aggressor.

That being said, politicians in Mexico are being careful to not demonize Russia and denounce instances of Russophobia. 

This especially as thousands of Russians escaping the conflict have entered Mexico in an attempt to emigrate to the U.S.

“We must remember that these are human beings. They are individuals and are in no way accountable for decisions taken in Moscow,” said Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard. 

Likely in an attempt to garner even further support for U.S. policy, Gen. Glen VanHerck, head of U.S. Northern Command, warned that staff inside the massive Russian embassy in Mexico City were in fact spies.

The claims were brushed off by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador who stated “Mexico is nobody’s colony, not of Russia and certainly not of the United States.”

But some in the international community have interpreted the president’s immediate response as naive. Espionage based out of Russian embassies, and those of other countries, is well documented. 

The accusation was also rebutted by the Russian embassy which labeled Gen. VanHerck’s comments “dangerous and inappropriate.”

Representatives from three political parties including the president’s own Morena, attempted to open dialogue through a Mexico-Russia diplomatic panel, or friendship group.  

Earlier: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine —  what does it mean for Mexico?

But the government panel was clear to point out that although they are seeking to forge stronger relationships with Russia, this should not be interpreted as support for the invasion of Ukraine. 

“We are working to offer Russia alternatives to end the war diplomatically, we are in complete solidarity with the people of Ukraine,” said a press statement released by the panel of representatives. 

But several US news outlets including the Los Angeles Times have called out Mexico for not being stronger in their condemnation, and trying to “play both sides.”

In fact, the vast majority of members of the house have been unambiguous in their condemnation of the war, as has the president and the entirety of his cabinet. 

A notable exception is Rep. Augusto Gómez Villanueva who referred to the Russian ambassador as “the representative of a heroic nation.”

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that even within the U.S. there are political factions who have been widely considered to be acting as mouthpieces for Moscow. 

That being said, since winning his election, Mexico’s president has expressed on several occasions admiration for Russia and sought a closer business relationship with the country.

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