Lula, who is polling ahead of President Bolsonaro, also blamed Biden and the EU and said that Ukraine should refuse to join NATO.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian presidential contender, has declared that the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, share equal blame for the conflict in Ukraine, pitting the leftist icon against western powers.

Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva said Russia should never have invaded Ukraine, but that both Putin and Zelensky share responsibility for the war. Lula also faulted US President Joe Biden for not doing enough to avert the violence in an interview with Time magazine, which was published on Wednesday.

The former president said it was wrong for western officials to congratulate Zelenskiy because they are inciting conflict rather than focusing on closed-door diplomacy to end the bloodshed in an interview with Time magazine published on Wednesday.

I saw the president of Ukraine appearing on television, being praised, and receiving a standing ovation from all the [European] lawmakers, Lula told the publication.

This person [Zelenskiy] is as much to blame for the conflict as Putin, he continued. Lula, who is featured on the cover of Time this week, is the leader for the October elections, in which he aims to deny far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s re-election and return to power after his corruption convictions were overturned last year.

The comments are likely to raise eyebrows in the United States and Europe, who are providing military backing to Ukraine and have imposed sanctions on Russia for an invasion largely viewed as unjustified Russian aggression in the west.

Lula, 76, believes Zelenskiy should have given in to Russian opposition to Ukraine’s Nato membership bid and sought talks with Putin to prevent a confrontation.

We should be having a serious discourse, he continued, referring to Zelenskiy’s ascent to stardom as an actor and comic. Okay, you were a decent comic. But let us not go to war only to see you on TV.

Biden and European Union officials, according to the veteran socialist, did not do enough to talk with Russia in the run-up to the election.

The United States has considerable political power. And Biden might have prevented conflict rather than provoking it, he added. Biden might have flown to Moscow to meet with Putin. This is the type of mentality a leader should have.

He believes the US and EU could have prevented the invasion by declaring Ukraine’s refusal to join Nato. Lula, 76, called Western leaders irresponsible, saying they should not honor President Zelensky because it fuels the violence and diverts attention away from closed-door talks to resolve the conflict.

I saw the President of Ukraine appearing on television, cheered, and given a standing ovation by all European lawmakers, he continued.

This person is just as much to blame for the conflict as Putin. As a result, During his two stints as president, Lula, who leads Bolsonaro in the polls for October’s elections, was a prominent actor on the world scene, helping to increase Brazil’s diplomatic heft.

He portrayed himself as a bridge-builder, maintaining close relations with people as diverse as US President George W. Bush, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.