Portman, Durbin Introduce Amendment to Senate’s FY 2021 NDAA Welcoming Ukraine Into the NATO Enhanced Opportunity Partnership Program

June 25, 2020 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a bipartisan amendment to the Senate’s FY 2021 NDAA congratulating Ukraine on their acceptance into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Enhanced Opportunity Partnership program. The North Atlantic Council voted on June 12, 2020 to recognize Ukraine into the EOP program, joining Australia, Finland, Sweden, Georgia and Jordan. This acceptance is a crucial step towards Ukraine achieving full NATO membership and will ensure Ukraine can maintain and deepen cooperation with NATO Allies and Partners. This partnership was granted in recognition of Ukraine’s continued dedication to defense reform and their contribution to Allied operations, to include Afghanistan and Kosovo as well as NATO Response Force and NATO exercises.  It will provide Ukraine with enhanced access to interoperability programs and exercises to increase their capabilities and ability to operate with NATO partners.

“I am proud to introduce this bipartisan amendment recognizing that the North Atlantic Council has accepted Ukraine as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner,” said Portman.Ukraine’s status as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner is a recognition of the tremendous sacrifices made by the brave men and women of the Ukrainian armed forces in support of NATO operations and the dedication of the Ukrainian government to continue to make serious structural military reforms. I strongly support Ukraine’s NATO integration and eventual full partnership and I will continue to advocate on their behalf. ”

“In the face of continued Russian aggression in the region and repeated assaults on the sovereignty of its borders, Ukraine needs steadfast allies and partners in the NATO nations,” Durbin said. “I am proud to join Senator Portman in introducing this bipartisan resolution.”

NOTE: In May 2019, after a historic free and open election, Senator Portman met with President Zelensky and other senior Ukrainian officials to further the strategic US/Ukrainian partnership.  Senator Portman, who received the Order of Merit from former President Petro Poroshenko during his visit to Ukraine in 2018 and received the Ukrainian-American community’s highest honor in 2016, the Shevchenko Freedom Award, has long led the effort in the Senate to provide Ukraine the kind of assistance necessary to ward off Russian aggression and maintain its territorial integrity. The co-founder and co-chairman of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, Portman has visited Ukraine several times, including in May 2019 and in April 2018 to see firsthand evidence of Russian aggression on the line of contact and leading a congressional election observation mission with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) during Ukraine’s Presidential election in 2014.

For the past four years, Portman has successfully championed language in the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that expanded U.S. military aid to Ukraine. These provisions helped build the primary statutory framework for U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. In addition, he has repeatedly written letters, delivered multiple floor speeches, and pressed senior administration officials on the importance of providing meaningful assistance to help Ukraine stand up to Russia’s military aggression, and has praised its decisions to provide lethal assistance to the country.

For his efforts to support Ukraine, Portman was recognized with the Order Of St. Volodymyr Medal from Ukrainian Patriarch Filaret. Portman also championed the bipartisan resolution marking the 85th anniversary of the Holodomor, passed by the Senate in October 2018.