Defense. Nato demands more effort from Portugal


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Minister Helena Carreiras speaks of a ‘very relevant’ effort, with 1.66% of GDP allocated to Defense, but both NATO’s Secretary General and Germany demand more and set the minimum admissible at 2%.

There is “political pressure” for NATO member states to exceed 2% of GDP in defense investment and Portugal maintains its commitment to achieve this figure by 2030. “There is, in fact, greater political pressure, that is undeniable, but there is also a set of varied perspectives on how to think about these various contributions to collective security and to the strengthening of the Atlantic Alliance,” said Helena Carreiras, at the end of a meeting of defense ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), in Brussels on the 15th.

It should be noted that, in addition to this goal, Portugal anticipated for this year the increase to 1.66% – it was initially scheduled for 2024 – but, despite this effort, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, and the German Defense Minister, Boris Pistorius, recently said that 2% of GDP of investment in defense should be the minimum. Questioned by journalists, the minister reiterated that the country is making a “very relevant” effort, trying to find a balance point between its Defense needs, aid and international commitments.

In this regard, at the end of January, the German government confirmed that it would send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and had already given other countries the ‘green light’ to do the same. Chancellor Olaf Scholz explained that the decision is a ‘coordinated act’ with allied countries. Germany had for weeks been under pressure from the Allies, mainly Poland, to go ahead with the measure. The tanks in question, Leopard 2, are among the most advanced models in the world, and approval by Germany was necessary because the vehicles are German-made.

Five days later, on January 30, Helena Carreiras said that Portugal is “talking with partners” about the “possibility of contributing” by sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Speaking to journalists, the minister explained that the decision could not be taken “in isolation,” adding that “one must understand that this is a decision that has to be collective, it is necessarily collective.” “There is no date for them to be sent nor has any decision been taken in that regard,” he further said. Regarding the controversy that most of the 37 Leopard 2 tanks that Portugal owns are inoperable, Helena Carreiras said that “there are different elements to consider, both in the constitution of the capacity itself, and issues that have to do with the operability of the means, with issues of training, with issues of substitutes.

Again on February 15 it was learned that Germany would be “a little late” in delivering war tanks to Ukraine, as the country’s vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, confessed on that Wednesday. “With the decision to send the tanks, we are doing what we can. A little too late, but everyone expects a terrible Russian offensive and time is pressing,” Habeck said in an interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit. On the other hand, it became clear that Portugal plans to send three Leopard 2 by the end of March, after the Sunrise reported that António Costa was postponing the decision – it was, in fact, the Prime Minister himself who, following the news, confirmed the sending, in an announcement that, as the Sunrise also reported, took the military by surprise.

According to data provided by the Ministry of Defense, regarding military support to Ukraine, Portugal delivered protective equipment (helmets, ballistic vests, night vision goggles), weapons (automatic rifles, heavy machine guns, various accessories), ammunition, communications equipment, medical and sanitary equipment and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in the first half of 2022; M113 armored personnel carriers (14 units) and combat first aid kits in the second half of 2022 and generators for electricity production (62/200KvA) (8 units).) and combat first aid kits in the second half of 2022 and generators for electricity production (62/200KvA) (8 pcs.), medical and sanitary equipment and ammunition in the first quarter of 2023. This equipment totals 331,050 kilograms. Finally, in the ‘material for delivery’ section, we find M113 armored personnel carriers (14un.), heavy multipurpose helicopters (KA32A11BC) and Leopard 2A6 combat cars (3un.) for a total of 381 500 kilograms.

Regarding training, medical assistance and other forms of support, the Ministry of Defense recalls that “Portugal is part of the European Union Mission of military assistance to Ukraine (EUMAMUkraine)”, and that “the training to be provided includes initial instruction, inactivation of explosive devices, Nuclear, Biological, Chemical and Radiological (NBQR) protection, and training in the medical field. There is also “availability for training in Leopard 2 tanks”, “availability to receive up to 40 Ukrainian soldiers wounded in combat in the Armed Forces Hospital” and “emergency accommodation capacity in military units for up to 300 people, for the initial reception of Ukrainian citizens in Portugal”.In addition to the assistance provided to Ukraine, according to the General Staff of the Armed Forces, in 2022 there were 2,730 missions on the national territory, in which 4,146 military personnel were engaged. Abroad, there are currently 15 active missions with 627 military personnel engaged, 93 involved means and 12 theaters of operations with missions: North Sea – “to ensure deterrence and a permanent naval capability to conduct naval operations in times of peace or crisis”; Rome – “to contribute to the dismantling of migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks, to the implementation of the arms embargo and to the capacity building of the Libyan Coast Guard”; Romania – “Participate in exercises and training activities with similar units in order to deepen the Atlantic Alliance’s ties in the face of conflict in Eastern Europe, reaffirm the Allies’ cohesion and resolve, and enhance NATO’s readiness” and “Contribute to the Alliance’s deterrence and defense in its southeastern flank, which is of direct benefit to the member states located in this geographical area”; Mediterrâneo – “contribuir para a segurança marítima no Mediterrâneo através do incremento do conhecimento situacional marítimo e da capacitação de parceiros”; Jordânia – “contribuir para a monitorização do fluxo de combatentes estrangeiros, ligados a organizações terroristas, para o Iraque e Síria”; Mali – “formar e aconselhar as Forças Armadas do Mali, contribuindo para aumentar a sua capacidade de defesa do território e proteção da população” e “apoiar o processo de transição, contribuindo para a estabilização do país”; S. Tomé e Príncipe – “Building the capacity of the Coast Guard of S. Tomé e Príncipe, supporting joint maritime surveillance and contributing to the strengthening of maritime security”; Central African Republic – “to contribute to the reform of the defence sector in the Central African Republic and to the modernization, effectiveness and democratic accountability of the Central African Armed Forces” and “to support the international community in the reform of the State security sector, contributing to the security and stabilization of the country”; Somalia – “to contribute to the training and education of the Somali security forces”; Mozambique – “to support the Mozambican Armed Forces in providing a more efficient and effective response to the Cabo Delgado crisis, in compliance with the legal provisions on human rights and international humanitarian law”; Indian Ocean – “to protect maritime traffic in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin, and to prevent and suppress acts of piracy”; and Colombia – “to verify the cessation of hostilities between the Government and the FARC-EP and to monitor the political, economic and social reintegration of former guerrilla elements”.


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