Portugal “proudly” gives six firefighter Kamov helicopters to Ukraine
PM is frequently unamused by Ventura's ribbing. Image: Manuel de Almeida/ LUSA

Portugal “proudly” gives six firefighter Kamov helicopters to Ukraine

Believes the Ukrainians will get them to work

Portugal’s prime minister said on Wednesday that the government had “proudly” handed over six Kamov helicopters to Ukraine after an “express request” from Kyiv, assuring that Portugal will continue to supply military hardware so that the country “can defend itself”. 

This is perhaps one of the funniest soundbites to have come out of the day, bearing in mind these machines have rarely worked, cost the country a small fortune, and were not so long ago described as “a pile of scrap metal”.

Mr Costa however was replying to CHEGA leader André Ventura, who was giving him the usual benefit of a ‘rough ride’ at the parliamentary equivalent of the dispatch box.

Ventura asked if the PM if felt “relieved to give these six Kamovs”, considering they had “never worked” in Portugal.

“I mean, to arrive at the end of the year and say ‘Portugal gave six Kamovs to Ukraine’, and then (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelensky tells you ‘Mr Prime Minister, I thank you very much… but they won’t start’. I think this is unpleasant,” Ventura teased, to applause and a deal of laughter from his party’s benches.

Mr Costa retorted: “Only Mr André Ventura would have the bad taste to be able to joke about a tragedy like the one Ukrainians are suffering from the war unleashed by an autocrat enemy of democracy and freedom”. 

And setting the record straight, the PM stressed that the Ukrainian government had expressly requested the Kamovs, as they are familiar with Russian technology (the Kamovs having been initially purchased from Russia).

We have handed them over with great pride, in the same way as we have handed over other material that has been requested by Ukraine – and we will continue to hand over so that Ukraine can defend itself, in the name of international law, to guarantee its national sovereignty and the integrity of its territory,” he said – adding that as far as the ‘not working’ part goes “in Ukraine, apparently, the Ukrainian government believes they will work…”

During his speech, André Ventura also quoted several newspaper headlines, which read “Government believes Nigeria will deliver gas” and “António Costa confident in European agreement” on energy interconnections.

“With all due respect, which is a lot, that I have for you, we don’t give a damn what you believe, we want solutions for the Portuguese, we want solutions so that people don’t always have to pay more,” said Ventura.

“Mr Ventura, don’t get me wrong, I understand that you don’t believe in what I believe, but there is one thing you should ask yourself, and that is who believes in you?” replied António Costa.

It was a rare moment of fun at a time when rare moments of fun are thin on the ground.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com