Brazil's Bolsonaro says ally Trump would have averted war in Ukraine


FILE PHOTO: Donald Trump welcomes Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to the White House in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said in comments published on Friday that the war in Ukraine would not have happened if former U.S. President Donald Trump were still in office, but offered no explanation for how his close ally could have prevented the conflict.

The comments in an interview with news magazine Veja could add to tensions with Washington as Bolsonaro seeks to overtake leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva ahead of a Brazilian presidential runoff vote on Oct. 30,

Bolsonaro told Veja that he had a good in-person meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in June. But in remarks likely to rile the White House, he said many of the issues presently bedeviling the world would not be occurring if Trump were still president.

"Some think that the war in Ukraine would not have happened if he were still in power," Bolsonaro said. "I agree with that."

He did not give further details.

Bolsonaro has long admired Trump, a fellow right-wing populist, and saw his international standing diminish after the 2020 U.S. election. Bolsonaro was among the last world leaders to recognize Biden's victory, after repeating Trump's false allegations of U.S. electoral fraud.

Trump endorsed Bolsonaro head of last Sunday's first round of the presidential election, saying Bolsonaro was "one of the great presidents of any country in the world ... respected by everybody throughout the world."

Despite his better-than-expected performance in the first round, Bolsonaro raised fresh doubts in the interview about the security of Brazil's voting system, without evidence, fanning fears that he may refuse to accept defeat.

In the interview with Veja, he kept up his unfounded questioning of Brazil's electronic voting system, declining to say he would accept the result if he lost in the second round.

"There's a feeling in public opinion that there was something dodgy," he said. "I'm always worried."

In the wide-ranging interview, Bolsonaro also committed to more privatizations if he is re-elected and said his regular sparring partner, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, "has all the symptoms of a dictator."

He said he could look at a proposal to increase the number of Supreme Court justices after the election.

Bolsonaro pledged to carry out more privatizations if he is re-elected, although he did not say which state-owned firms would be up for sale.

(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Brad Haynes and Alistair Bell)

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