BRASILIA (Reuters) -Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday that a deal was close with Moscow to buy much cheaper diesel from Russia, in what would appear to be the latest tangible benefit stemming from his friendly relationship with President Vladimir Putin.
Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, gave no further details. Neither Bolsonaro’s office, nor Brazil’s Mining and Energy Ministry immediately responded to requests for comment.
“It makes sense and eventually could happen,” a senior Economy Ministry official said on condition of anonymity, declining to give further details.
A senior official from state-run oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, which supplies most fuel to the domestic market, told Reuters the idea was not surprising but raised concerns, without going into details.
High fuel prices have hurt Bolsonaro’s re-election hopes ahead of an October vote, leaving him trailing in polls to leftist former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
It was not immediately clear how Brazil would buy Russian diesel without coming up against Western sanctions, imposed on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Bolsonaro ignored U.S. entreaties and met with Putin just days before the outbreak of war, and has since said his relationship with the Russian leader has allowed Brazil to maintain access to fertilizers that are crucial for the country’s vast agribusiness sector.
(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu in Brasilia and Rodrigo Viga Gaier in Rio de Janeiro; Writing by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Brad Haynes and Jonathan Oatis)