Ukraine invited to participate in seven NATO exercises in 2021

Ukrainian defence minister says country’s involvement in exercise shows confidence of alliance members

NATO has invited Ukraine to participate in at least seven exercises of the alliance, which will take place in 2021. The Ukrainian Defence Ministry said on its website on Wednesday that Kiev regards this as confidence on the part of the organisation’s members.

“Among the exercises in which the North Atlantic Alliance has invited Ukraine to participate are Steadfast Cobalt, Ramstein Apex, Ramstein Ambition, Steadfast Defender, Noble Bonus, Steadfast Jupiter, Steadfast Leda”, –  the ministry said. It is specified that this decision of the alliance is related to Ukraine receiving the status of NATO partner with expanded capabilities in June 2020.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Andriy Taran believes that Ukraine’s involvement in the exercise shows the trust of the alliance members. “We have gained mutual interoperability with NATO for many years during joint exercises and trainings, participation in military governing bodies. The Ukrainian military has gained a good reputation for professionalism, resourcefulness and courage among their colleagues in the alliance. This recognition has translated into trust and willingness to involve Ukrainians in practising Collective Defence, which for NATO is that an attack on any of the member states is seen as an attack on all,” said Taran, quoted by the ministry as saying.

The head of NATO’s Military Committee, Stuart Peach, arrived in Ukraine on Wednesday. The visit to Ukraine by the senior alliance official comes against the backdrop of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s statement on Tuesday that his country’s membership of NATO is the only way to end the war in Donbas. At the same time, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitriy Peskov stressed that Kiev would only exacerbate the internal Ukrainian crisis by its decision to join NATO, as the issue was unacceptable to the residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics. On Wednesday, a representative of the German cabinet, Ulrike Demmer, said that NATO was generally open to new members, but the issue of Ukraine’s accession to the alliance was not on the agenda at the moment.

The North Atlantic Alliance adopted a political declaration at its Bucharest Summit in April 2008 that “Ukraine and Georgia will eventually become members of NATO,” but it refused to grant both countries Membership Action Plans, the first step in the legal procedure for joining the alliance. According to experts, over the next 12 years Kiev and Tbilisi have rather moved away from the prospect of joining the alliance. NATO does not accept states with unresolved territorial problems, as their membership could drag the entire alliance into a military conflict.

In February 2019, the Verkhovna Rada approved constitutional amendments enshrining the country’s aspiration to join NATO. Ensuring that Ukraine’s Armed Forces are fully compatible with the armies of NATO countries by 2020 is enshrined in the country’s new military doctrine adopted in 2015.

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