Ukrainians call for support for NATO membership
Manuel de Almeida/ Lusa

Ukrainians call for support for NATO membership

Thank Portugal for its support

A small but doughty group of Ukrainians gathered in Lisbon this morning calling for support for Ukraine’s membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

Encouraged to show up in Praça do Comércio by the Association of Ukrainians in Portugal, raising flags and waving placards, the demonstrators thanked Portugal for the support it has given to Ukraine this far.

“Thank you, Portugal!” they shouted, specifically saluting the prime minister, António Costa, writes Lusa, referring to the fact that on Saturday, the government expressed support for Ukraine joining NATO “when conditions allow”.

In a joint statement signed between Ukraine and Portugal and released after a telephone conversation between António Costa and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the government said that “the future of Ukraine and its people lies in the European family” and agrees with the strategy of increasing pressure on Russia through further sanctions.

In Praça do Comércio, with the Ukrainian anthem being sung in the background, Pavlo Sadokha, President of the Association of Ukrainians in Portugal, said that Ukrainian membership of NATO “is not possible” at this time of “full active war”, but stressed that it is important for the country to get a date at the upcoming summit in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, next week.

We need to know that Ukraine will become (a NATO member), that all this effort we are making will yield results so that in the future Ukraine will join the NATO bloc and be protected there from future invasions by Russia,” he told Lusa.

Sadokha added that Ukrainian troops need more military aid. “They lack ammunition, planes…”, saying that that he hopes support will come “faster” than it has in the past, to “save many lives” and “end the war“.

Olga Yakovets, one of the 50 or so Ukrainians who took part in this morning’s effort, echoed the calls for more support: “Alone, as a country, we are now, at this moment, very weak. With the world, with Europe, we will be able to do much more and achieve freedom“, she said, also thanking Portugal for its constant help.

Nestor Kondra, a 19-year-old university student, was holding a poster emblazoned with the words “ecocide”, depicting a drawing of the bombed Kakhovka dam that flooded villages around Kherson, causing environmental and material damages that will last decades.

“The environmental issue is important, now more than ever,” he stressed, emphasising that “actions” like the one that destroyed the dam “must be totally condemned so that (further, similar) disasters do not happen.”

Nestor also showed how this conflict has changed mentalities: “I have no Russian friends. (…) We are neighbours, yes, but we don’t have much in common. People think we have a lot in common, but we don’t”, he told Lusa. “Sometimes we hear that we are sister nations, but no, we are not“.

This afternoon, in Coimbra and Porto there are similar demonstrations planned in support of Ukraine’s membership of NATO. The event in Coimbra is scheduled for 5pm in Praça 8 de Maio; in Porto, a little later, at 6.30pm in Fonte dos Leões.