This status is part of NATO’s Partnership Interoperability Initiative, which aims to maintain and deepen cooperation between Allies and partners that have made significant contributions to NATO-led operations and missions.
As a NATO partner, Ukraine has provided troops to Allied operations, including in Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as to the NATO Response Force and NATO exercises.
As an Enhanced Opportunities Partner, Ukraine will benefit from tailor-made opportunities to help sustain such contributions. This includes enhanced access to interoperability programs and exercises, and more sharing of information, including lessons learned.
“This decision recognises Ukraine’s strong contributions to NATO missions, and demonstrates the Alliance’s continued commitment to its partnerships despite the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu.
Ukraine is now one of six Enhanced Opportunities Partners, alongside Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden. Each of the partners has a tailor-made relationship with NATO, based on areas of mutual interest.
Ukraine’s status as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner does not prejudge any decisions on NATO membership. NATO Allies continue to encourage and support Ukraine in its reform efforts, including in the security and defence sector, with regard to civilian control and democratic oversight, and in the fight against corruption.
According to government officials, the status of an enhanced opportunities partner gives Ukraine a number of advantages. First of all, the enhanced opportunities partnership is “a special format” of cooperation which NATO offers to its closest allies that are ready to assist the Alliance in preventing world threats. The status of an enhanced opportunities partner will enable Ukraine to participate in planning NATO operations, to receive access to all programs and exercises of the Alliance, to adopt advanced military know-how and the first-priority certification of forces and means. Apart from this, Ukrainian servicemen will have the right to hold positions at NATO headquarters and command structures. Also, Ukraine will have an access to a rapid in-depth exchange of intelligence information between the Alliance and its special partners. This status will contribute to Ukraine’s efforts to ensure security in the area of the Black Sea waters. Besides, the enhanced opportunities status provides for joint efforts to counteract cyber threats, international terrorism and organized crime.
The Kremlin responded immediately to this decision stating that giving the status of a NATO partner with enhanced opportunities to Ukraine will not promote the strengthening of security in Europe. On June 16, Dmitriy Peskov, the press secretary of the Russian President, commented on this event in the following way, “Considering the nature of NATO and actually the original goals for which the NATO was created as a mechanism of confrontation, we are watching closely the processes of NATO’ absorbing ever more new members into various formats. We think that this does not help strengthen security and stability in Europe”.
Meanwhile, NATO member-countries are convinced that the status of an enhanced opportunities partner will make it possible for Ukraine to deepen its cooperation with the armies of the Alliance. Foreign Minister of Lithuania Linas Linkyavichus commented, “Both the Alliance and the Ukrainian people will benefit from Ukraine’s receiving the status. An independent, sovereign and stable Ukraine is a key to Euro-Atlantic security”.
The same opinion was expressed by the mission of Canada at the NATO. Also, Foreign Secretary of Great Britain Dominic Raab congratulated Ukraine and said that the decision to give Ukraine this status consolidates relationship between the NATO and Ukraine. He stressed, “The United Kingdom is decisively devoted to the security, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. The American mission at the NATO expressed their confidence that the awarding of the status of an enhanced opportunities partner to Ukraine will make relations and cooperation between the NATO and Ukraine ever stronger.
The newspaper Holos Ukrainy