22 Jan 2020 14:42

Ukrainian defense minister says achieving military criteria for NATO membership is his main objective

KYIV. Jan 22 (Interfax) - Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Zahorodniuk has said he considers fulfilling the military criteria for NATO membership and becoming a member of the NATO Enhanced Opportunity Program to be his main objectives.

"Finally, cooperation has become practical. Before that, we often heard political slogans alone, but nothing happened in reality. We've made it clear that we're not interested in political slogans. Switching to practical mode is something that matters. My main task is to achieve military membership criteria and do everything in order to become a member of the NATO Enhanced Opportunity Program," Zahorodniuk said in an interview with Interfax.

"We have every chance to become a member. In fact, it's already going to be a purely political issue," he said.

The introduction of roadmaps for the transition of Ukrainian Armed Forces to NATO standards will begin in January 2020, Zahorodniuk said.

"In Brussels, we had systemic meetings where we agreed on roadmaps for transition to Alliance standards. The reform should be implemented in close cooperation with NATO, so that they understand our actions and fully support them; these roadmaps have been agreed upon and supported. The first roadmaps will be ready in January, because there are several hundred standards there," he said.

The roadmaps will contain instructions on the types and different kinds of troops, because they are all in completely different states, Zahorodniuk said. "The roadmaps will address different branches of the forces, because their state is completely different. Some of them are ready to undergo certification tomorrow, some of them have already passed it (for example, in the Joint Forces Operation), and some of them must build everything from scratch," he said.

The Naval Forces of Ukraine now de facto meet the criteria for membership in the Alliance, since many personnel have undergone service and training in NATO structures, Zahorodniuk said.