Portugal's fleet of F16s
Portugal's fleet of F16s are all committed elsewhere for the time being

Combat aircraft for Ukraine not a red line – PM

… But still not immediately possible 

Portugal’s prime minister has said that sending combat aircraft to Ukraine is not a red line for the country, but right now, it is also not possible.

“On our part this is not a red line issue,” António Costa told journalists at the end of an extraordinary summit between heads of state and government of the European Union in Brussels, attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

The meeting, which began on Thursday morning, lasted around 16 hours, ending in the early hours of this morning.

Mr Zelenskyy has insisted in recent weeks on the need for the country to receive combat aircraft, and in Brussels, before the presidents and prime ministers of the 27 Member States, he reiterated this request.

However, the fleet that Portugal has “is engaged in different missions, of national sovereignty and guaranteeing the integrity of the territory, interception missions” and also commitments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), António Costa said.

“We will now have a mission to police Lithuania’s airspace and that is a commitment to NATO, so it is an area where we cannot dispense with the equipment we have,” he explained

This latest summit was “dominated” by the presence of Volodymyr Zelenskyy. António Costa considered this “very important” – not only to “reaffirm the condemnation of this unjustified war“, but also to align the “set of requirements that Ukraine needs to meet” in order to pave the way for accession to the European Union.

After four multilateral meetings between the 27 and the Ukrainian, each which lasted about four hours, Mr Costa acknowledged there is “great proximity of positions” between the European Union and the country which is trying to win a conflict started by Russia almost a year ago.