MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador to Mexico on Thursday urged Mexican lawmakers to join the United States in supporting Kyiv against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a day after his Russian counterpart encouraged Mexico to defy “Uncle Sam.”
“The Russian ambassador was here yesterday making a lot of noise about how Mexico and Russia are so close. This, sorry, can never happen. It can never happen,” U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar said in remarks at Mexico’s lower house of Congress on Thursday.
“We have to be in solidarity with Ukraine and against Russia,” he said, before invoking the history of World War II.
“I remember very well that during the Second World War there was no distance between Mexico and the United States, both were united against what Hitler was doing,” he added.
In May 1942, Mexico’s Congress approved a formal resolution of war against the Axis powers, about half a year after the United States declared war on Germany.
Salazar’s comments came after Russia’s ambassador to Mexico, Viktor Koronelli, addressed lawmakers at a newly inaugurated “Mexico-Russia friendship committee” on Wednesday.
“On the orders of Uncle Sam, Mexico will never answer ‘Yes, Sir'” Koronelli said, drawing applause from some legislators.
During his appearance, Russia’s ambassador repeated his government’s position that it is conducting a “special military operation” to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, whose president is Jewish.
“Russia did not begin this war, it is finishing it,” Koronelli said.
Ukraine and Western allies call this a baseless pretext for a war of choice that has raised fears of wider conflict in Europe.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Mexico Oksana Dramaretska earlier this month urged Mexican lawmakers to support international sanctions and other efforts to isolate Russia.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has sought to remain neutral in the Ukraine conflict.
While supporting a United Nations vote urging Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, his government has also criticized Europe for sending arms to other countries.
(Reporting by Laura Gottesdiener; Editing by Dave Graham and Michael Perry)