REUTERS

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says it's too early to draw conclusions about Ukraine joining the Alliance's Enhanced Opportunity Partnership.

During an online video conference for journalists ahead of the meeting of defense ministers of the Alliance member countries, he was asked whether the participation of the Ukrainian An-225 Mriya and An-224 Ruslan aircraft in the delivery of medical supplies from China to NATO countries would be taken into account when assessing the possibility of Ukraine becoming a member of Enhanced Opportunity Partnership.

"We are also working with partners in different ways. And we welcome the fact that NATO has so many partners and that we can stand together and address common challenges as the COVID-19 crisis is. And Ukraine helped NATO Allies because Ukraine provides strategic airlift," he said.

Stoltenberg said Ukrainian planes have enormous capacity, and the attraction of these planes shows how NATO is cooperating with Ukraine as a partner country. According to him, for a long period of time, Ukrainian planes have demonstrated their importance for lifting medical equipment from China across the world into NATO member countries in Europe.

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"We work with Ukraine, we welcome the close partnership with Ukraine. We're all affected. This is a common challenge. We need to respond in a common way. And, of course, we are now looking at how we can further strengthen the partnership with Ukraine. The issue of Enhanced Opportunity Partnership is one of the elements in that discussion. It's too early for me to conclude, but everything we do together strengthens the partnership between NATO and Ukraine," Stoltenberg added.