NP-UN National Affairs Desk/RFE/RL.
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada Andriy Shevchenko has welcomed NATO’s announcement that Ukraine had been accepted as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner (EOP).
“The EOP status gets us closer to a full NATO membership and it helps us to build a stronger Ukraine,” he told New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
Shevchenko also thanked the Government of Canada for the support it gave Ukraine in this initiative.
“Right from Day 1, Canada has played the leading role in getting member nations to approve this measure,” he said.
On June 12 NATO announced that it has recognized Ukraine as an EOP member after Kyiv demonstrated its “commitment to Euro-Atlantic security.”
This status is part of a NATO initiative intended to “maintain and deepen cooperation between Allies and partners that have made significant contributions to NATO-led operations and missions,” the Western alliance announced on June 12.
“Ukraine has provided troops to Allied operations, including in Afghanistan and Kosovo, as well as to the NATO Response Force and NATO exercises,” it said.
The statement said Ukraine’s new status will enable the country to benefit from “enhanced access to interoperability programs and exercises, and more sharing of information.”
However, it insisted that the new status “does not prejudge any decisions on NATO membership.”
“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.
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.
Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan, and Sweden are also recognized as EOPs.
In joining this program, Ukraine may be involved in NATO’s operational planning for crisis response and intelligence sharing, and it will expand the opportunities for Ukrainian Armed Forces servicemen to participate in multinational military exercises and to hold positions in the Alliance’s international command and staff structures, explained Shevchenko.
However, there are also obvious benefits for NATO if Ukraine joins EOP, he added.
“Ukraine could increase contribution to NATO operations, sharing and exploiting operational lessons from the Joint Forces operations Ukraine – including in the cyber/hybrid domain, as well as contributing to Black Sea security. EOP status for Ukraine will strengthen European security.
“We will also be able to easier exchange our intelligence information. For example, if Ukraine had the EOP in January, we could have shared information on PS752 (the Ukraine International Airline’s plane shot down by Iranian missiles) much faster and more efficiently,” noted Shevchenko.