The Prime Minister of Portugal Antonio Costa condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, adding that any Ukrainians who have family, friends, and acquaintances in Portugal are welcome in Portugal. Instructions to facilitate visas to those feeling the Russian invasion have been given to embassies in Ukraine, as well as neighboring countries. The Portuguese Embassy in Ukraine is also urging Portuguese citizens in Ukraine to leave through European Union borders, particularly in route to Romania or Moldova.
Portugal is not alone in this decision. Poland is welcoming Ukranian refugees as well, as tens of thousands arrived at the border on Friday. Many are calling out Poland’s hypocrisy as it has a strict refugee policy for Afghan and Middle Eastern refugees. In contrast, the UK has stopped accepting visa applications from Ukrainians stuck in the country. Therefore, there is no legal route to seek asylum in the UK, unless Ukrainians have British relatives.
#Portugal stands ready to support Member States neighbouring Ukraine to ensure international protection to those in need and to welcome Ukrainians who wish to continue their lives here. pic.twitter.com/vc7nVXtXne
— António Costa (@antoniocostapm) February 25, 2022
On Tuesday, March 1st, the government announced the creation of a task force that will focus on helping Ukrainian refugees with employment and housing, according to CNN Portugal. Ukrainian refugees will be automatically given a national health service number, a social security number, and a VAT identification number (NIF).
While refugees are usually allowed in Portugal through a case-by-case analysis of the danger each applicant faces, the government acknowledges that all refugees from Ukraine are facing dangerous conditions. The only reason someone might be denied asylum is if they have committed crimes against humanity or serious crimes, according to the Minister of Internal Administration and Justice, Francisca Van Dunem.
What is Portugal doing about the Russia-Ukraine war?
The Prime Minister announced on Thursday that 174 military soldiers are ready to be sent to Romania in the next few weeks. NATO mobilized over 40,000 soldiers on Friday, including Portuguese military that could be ready to move during the next 2 to 3 days. However, the Prime Minister has made it clear that NATO will not intervene in Ukraine, and that Portuguese forces with NATO will be deployed in deterrence missions, predominately in NATO countries bordering Ukraine.
Portugal has also enacted sanctions on Russia, to which the Foreign Affairs Minister has stated that he does not believe Portugal will suffer direct consequences. PSD President Rui Rio argues that although sanctions may lead to difficulties in Portugal, they are worth going through to ensure peace and security.
There have also been discussions on social media about the Portugal Golden Visa, as MEP Ana Gomes argues that Russian citizens under the Golden Visa in Portugal should face sanctions. In the tweet below, she criticizes the Prime Minister, arguing that Golden Visa holder Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch should have his citizenship revoked and his assets frozen.
Roman Abramovich no topo dos nomes de #RussianOligarchs visados pelas #sancoes. Que espera o governo de @antoniocostapm para agir, retirar-lhe a cidadania, congelar-lhe bens, proibir-lhe entrada no país, etc???? https://t.co/WU2PWlftN4
— Ana Gomes (@AnaMartinsGomes) February 24, 2022
It is unclear whether any changes will be made to the Portugal Golden Visa. However, the war in Ukraine is likely to affect Portugal’s state budget for 2022. The Prime Minister said it was too early to assess whether this is the case, however, some Portuguese economists have stated that it will, directly and indirectly, impact the state budget. Oil and natural gas prices will continue to skyrocket as Russia is one of the main energy suppliers to European countries which could impact the budget. GDP is also likely to decrease in Portugal and there could be increased military spending attributed to the budget, depending on the course of the conflict.
Ukrainians in Portugal Protest Russian Invasion
The second-largest foreign community in Portugal, Ukrainians in Portugal are living in fear for their family and friends back home. There have been protests in Lisbon, Porto, and Algarve with the largest having taken place in front of the Russian Embassy in Lisbon on Thursday. The protests call for military support from European countries in Ukraine, as well as urge the Portuguese to not purchase products from Russia.
Six political parties are also planning a protest on Sunday in front of the Russian Embassy, created by the youth organizations of the Socialist Party (PS), the Social Democratic Party (PSD), CDS- People’s Party, Livre, the Liberal Initiative (IL), and People Animals Nature (PAN). It is uncommon that parties across the political spectrum come together for a protest. However, it is unlikely that all parties will agree on the way to reinstate peace in Ukraine.