NATO Considers Enhanced Partnership for Ukraine without Details on Its Accession – Media

Friday, 26 May 2023

NATO members are set to offer Ukraine an upgraded relationship format, although any concrete roadmap for accession still remains a more distant prospect.

According to Euractiv, several diplomats from NATO member countries have revealed that NATO countries are looking to upgrade Ukraine's status in its relationship by setting up a "Ukraine-NATO Council."

NATO foreign ministers are set to meet in Oslo next week where they are expected to discuss the shape and the timeline of the new council and future membership, as well as the need for more military aid to Ukraine as it prepares for its summer offensive against Russia.

Under the plan, Ukraine would be a "full-fledged" member around the Ukraine-NATO Council table instead of being only invited for discussions as is the case now. Kyiv could then call for meetings when they wish, and it would be easier to give a direct update on the situation on the battlefield, two people with knowledge of the discussions said.

Those could include more intelligence sharing and consultations, joint exercises, investment in the defence industry, and work on the interoperability between Ukraine’s and the NATO member states’ armed forces, giving Kyiv the option to align with NATO’s communiqués and standard.

In these discussions, some NATO member states have pointed out that Russia – Ukraine’s aggressor – has a joint NATO-Russia Council, although meetings are no longer taking place, while their partner Ukraine does not.

Many NATO diplomats acknowledge a fast-track membership is not an option, some wish to officially put Kyiv on the path to membership.

Countries in Eastern Europe believe NATO needs to make it clear that "Ukraine will be a member of the alliance after the war," two NATO diplomats said, calling for a roadmap or concrete plan to accession.

According to Euractiv, key member states such as the United States and Germany were very cautious while Hungary remained firmly opposed because of bilateral problems with Ukraine, and Europe's big powers such as France and the UK found themselves in the middle ground,

In private conversations, Ukrainian officials acknowledge that they should not expect immediate NATO membership but they request a strong signal from allies.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated at a recent public event that while no one can say for certain what decision to expect for Ukraine at the summit in Vilnius, "everyone agrees that Ukraine will become a NATO member."

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba previously stated that Ukraine will not settle for any other decision of the NATO summit in Vilnius in July than real steps towards its membership in the Alliance.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal unofficially learned that NATO key members have preliminarily supported the idea of providing Ukraine with security guarantees prior to its membership based on the Kyiv Security Compact.

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