In a move that has drawn sharp criticism from international and domestic fronts, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador defended Russia’s participation in Mexico’s Independence Day parade. This decision has left many questioning Mexico’s geopolitical stance, particularly regarding Russia’s ongoing aggression in Ukraine.
Lopez Obrador, a leftist, dismissed the outcry, stating, “We have relations with all countries in the world and we invite everyone.” He responded during a government press conference where he noted that the Russian unit’s presence had sparked a “scandal.” The Mexican leader has long advocated for a neutral role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, even proposing peace talks at one point.
However, Obrador’s “neutral” stance becomes ambiguous when considering that Mexico has backed significant U.N. resolutions that criticize Russia’s role in the Ukrainian conflict. Ukraine’s ambassador to Mexico, Oksana Dramaretska, brought this inconsistency to light when she posted on the X platform, formerly known as Twitter, that the parade had been “sullied” by the Russian unit’s participation, asking, “How coherent is it Mr. Lopez Obrador with your policy of neutrality and condemnation of aggression against my country?”
Hmmm anyone know how many russian military and wagner folks are actually in Mexico these days https://t.co/FFziprESrs
— Greggarious (@postinazg) September 18, 2023
Russia’s embassy in Mexico, for its part, lauded the inclusion, exclaiming on X, “Long live the friendship between Mexico and Russia!”
The Mexican parade did not only feature Russia. Units from Brazil, Chile, China, Venezuela, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cuba and Nicaragua also participated.
While the international community may see this as a diplomatic misstep, the decision’s impact also reverberates domestically. Xochitl Galvez, the leading opposition candidate for Mexico’s 2024 presidential election, sharply criticized Obrador, stating on X that he “made it clear that his friends are dictators, not democrats.”
The parade issue becomes a symbolic incident that fuels the argument that Lopez Obrador’s foreign policy is inconsistent, if not problematic. He chooses a hands-off approach with Russia while claiming to condemn their aggressive acts. He continues to buy Russia’s Sputnik COVID vaccine — a move that experts have questioned, especially considering that it was designed for strains circulating in 2020.
Including a Russian military unit in a Mexican parade is not just a matter of military display. It raises questions about Mexico’s international allegiances and sheds light on the shaky ground that is Lopez Obrador’s policy of “neutrality.”