On June 12, Ukraine received a status of the member of Enhanced Opportunities Program of NATO.
This program aims to support and deepen cooperation between allies and partners, which have made significant contributions to NATO-led operations and missions.
As an Enhanced Opportunities Partner, Ukraine will have expanded access to interaction programs, as well as a wider exchange of information. However, the new status does not affect the decision on the country's membership in the Alliance.
What is Enhanced Partnership?
The Enhanced Opportunities Partner (EOP) has been launched by NATO in 2014. Its goal is to strengthen the interoperability of troops of the EOP countries with NATO forces. The higher this compatibility is, the easier and more effective the participation of such states in the Alliance's missions and operations.
Ukraine is now one of six Enhanced Opportunities Partners, alongside Australia, Finland, Georgia, Jordan and Sweden. The Alliance notes that each of the partners has a tailor-made relationship with NATO, based on areas of mutual interest. For example, Jordan is important as a partner of the Alliance in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East. NATO also needs an intelligence exchange with Australia to understand China's situation and actions.
Participation in its operations is also important for the North Atlantic Alliance.
New status of Ukraine
On June 12, Ukraine got the status of the member of the NATO Enhanced Opportunity Program.
“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. Allies highly value these significant contributions, which demonstrate Ukraine’s commitment to Euro-Atlantic security,” the Alliance stated.
It is noted that as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner, Ukraine will benefit from tailor-made opportunities to help sustain such contributions. This includes enhanced access to interoperability programmes and exercises, and more sharing of information, including lessons learned.
Earlier, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba in a conversation with DW gave several examples of what the status of an Enhanced Partner will give Ukraine.
Kuleba noted that some NATO exercises are open only to EOP participants and member-countries. Another advantage is the more in-depth rapid exchange of intelligence between the Alliance and special partners.
Symbolic meaning of Enhanced Partnership
DW agency, citing experts, notes that Ukraine is already working closely with NATO, and that the new status has not so much of a practical use, as it has a symbolic significance.
According to analyst Jamie Shea, who worked at the Alliance's headquarters, Ukraine could ask NATO for additional opportunities even without EOP, such as enhancing the interoperability of its forces with NATO forces. At the same time, Shea calls the Enhanced Opportunities Partners a kind of “club of the chosen” for the NATO. Since there are few such countries, being among them brings certain prestige.
Bruno Lété, a Brussels-based expert at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, is also convinced that the EOP status has first and foremost a symbolic meaning.
“The next logical step after EOP status is the membership. We can say that this partnership is like a waiting room for the membership,” Lété added.
However, NATO itself has a different position on this issue. The Alliance notes that 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.”