NATO to elevate Ukraine’s partner status, sans rapid accession – media reports

27 May, 12:20 AM
According to media reports, NATO will upgrade Ukraine's status as a partner (Photo:REUTERS/Yves Herman)

According to media reports, NATO will upgrade Ukraine's status as a partner (Photo:REUTERS/Yves Herman)

NATO countries are reportedly preparing to offer Ukraine an enhanced relationship framework, intended to demonstrate political backing for Kyiv’s membership aspirations, but a specific roadmap for joining the alliance remains a more distant prospect, European news outlet Euractiv reported on May 26.

In March, Euractiv revealed NATO's intention to elevate Ukraine's status in its relationship by establishing a "Ukraine-NATO Council." This proposal has since gained momentum and signals an upgrade in relations, as affirmed by several NATO diplomats.

This move would be the first step towards "enhancing the political partnership" between NATO and Kyiv since the commencement of the war and Ukraine's application for membership, according to two NATO diplomats.

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Next week, NATO foreign ministers are slated to convene in Oslo, Norway. They will discuss the structure, timeline of the new council, and future membership. Additionally, they will address the need for increased military assistance to Ukraine as it readies for its summer counteroffensive against Russia.

Under the proposed plan, Ukraine would become a "full-fledged" participant at the Ukraine-NATO Council table, contrasting with its current status of only being invited to partake in discussions.

Ukrainians would then have the autonomy to request meetings as needed, facilitating a more straightforward update process about battlefield conditions, as per two individuals familiar with the discussions.

This enhanced partnership would pave the way for an array of new cooperative areas previously non-existent, three sources told Euractiv.

“These could involve expanded intelligence sharing and consultations, joint exercises, investment in the defense industry, and initiatives on interoperability between Ukraine's and NATO member states' armed forces,” the report reads.

“This would provide Kyiv with the option to align with NATO's communiqués and standards.”

Previously, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that all NATO members agree that Ukraine will ultimately become a member of the alliance, but their current priority is to ensure Kyiv’s victory.

During a meeting with Stoltenberg in Kyiv on April 20, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized that there are no barriers to political decisions regarding Ukraine’s membership.

Ukraine expects specific NATO membership proposals or security guarantees at the Vilnius Summit in July 2023.

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