Ukraine has become a member of the NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner program, the country's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.
"This day has come. I’m deeply grateful to our partners in the Alliance for making this possible. Ukraine finally gains a long deserved status of an Enhanced Opportunities Partner of NATO. We are making each other stronger together!," he wrote.
Ukraine will have increased access to NATO programs and exercises, as well as greater information sharing, the North Atlantic Alliance said in a statement. According to NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu, the decision "recognizes Ukraine's significant contribution to NATO missions."
Dzerkalo Tyzhnia (the Mirror Weekly) reports, citing sources, the decision to join Ukraine in the NATO program was made under the so-called silent procedure. It was previously expected to be brought to a meeting of the defense ministers of the alliance's member states in June or October.
The publication notes that the status of an advanced partner does not presuppose the prospect of NATO membership. The same is stated on the alliance's website.
Ukraine asked the North Atlantic Alliance to join the program last November. Prior to that, the country had the status of a NATO aspiring member.
NATO's Enhanced Opportunities Partner (EOP) program was launched in 2014. Its goal is to strengthen the interoperability of the armed forces of partner countries with the alliance's troops. In addition to Ukraine, five countries have the status of NATO Enhanced Opportunities Partner: Australia, Georgia, Jordan, Finland and Sweden.
In February, the press service of Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, stated that the official goal in the new strategy of national security and defense of the country was full membership in NATO. In May, Zelensky signed a decree on the Annual National Program (HNP), which defines the strategy of NATO integration of Ukraine.