On June 12, the North Atlantic Council recognized Ukraine as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner. 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.
Ukraine is now one of six Enhanced Opportunities Partners, alongside Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden.
In a press release, NATO stated that Ukraine provided troops to Allied operations, including in Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as to the NATO Response Force and NATO exercises, and that 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 recognizes 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.
However, the press release notes that Ukraine’s new status does not prejudge any decisions on NATO membership.
Ukraine’s Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration gave more details about the new status, Evropeyska Pravda reported.
“This is a special format of cooperation that NATO offers to its closest allies, who are ready to work closely with the Alliance to counter global threats. This format allows each country to choose areas for cooperation that will be most beneficial to it and NATO,” the deputy prime minister’s office said in an infographic on its Facebook page.
The program opens up greater opportunities for sectoral interoperability with NATO in the areas of logistics, communications and troop management.
As explained by the office, as a result of membership in the Program, Ukraine will be able to participate in the planning of NATO operations, gain access to all NATO exercises, access to best practices, and priority certification of forces and equipment.
Representatives of Ukraine will also be able to hold positions at NATO headquarters and command structures.
In addition, Ukraine will have an in-depth and faster exchange of intelligence with NATO member countries.
Participation in the program also envisages deepening cooperation in maintaining security in the Black Sea and joint counteraction to cyberthreats, international terrorism and organized crime.
Ukraine became an aspiring member of NATO in 2018, declaring its aspirations to become a full-fledged NATO member. Other NATO aspiring members include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.