Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zahorodniuk is convinced that Ukraine meets the criteria for joining NATO’s Enhanced Opportunities Partnership program, and has urged NATO to consider and endorse this decision.
“Our NATO partners know that joining the Enhanced Opportunity Partnership Program is an absolute priority for Ukraine. Ukraine has made significant progress implementing alliance standards and already meets the military criteria for joining the program. We are ready, and there is now a remarkable window of opportunity,” said Zahorodniuk during a business breakfast with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, as cited by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry website.
He added that Ukraine also has something to offer the alliance. In particular, he mentioned the continued involvement of Ukrainian soldiers in operations under the auspices of NATO, sharing the experience gained from opposing Russian aggression in the Donbas, including the hybrid component, exchanging intelligence, and securing the Black Sea.
The Ukrainian defense minister also met with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and updated him on the progress of the Joint Forces Operation in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Zahorodniuk pointed out that, alongside the measures that are being taking to repel and deter Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are constantly reforming and changing in order to meet the criteria for NATO membership.
Zahorodniuk also met with Canadian National Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, whom he told about the situation in eastern Ukraine and the measures being taken by the country’s leadership to safeguard Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“The military reform and the further development of the AFU’s capabilities are the primary instruments for deterring Russian military aggression. In order to do this, among other things, we have developed and are busy implementing a governmental action plan, as part of which five strategic objectives have been identified for the ministry,” he explained.
Zahorodniuk and Sajjan also discussed the current situation with regard to bilateral military cooperation. In particular, they spoke about the training of more than 6,700 soldiers at four training centers in Ukraine between 2015 and 2020. At present, there are 150 Canadian instructors in Ukraine.