Ukraine provides strategic air transport capability to NATO countries in response to the COVID-19 crisis, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.
During an online video conference for journalists ahead of an online pre-ministerial press conference, ahead of the extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) at the level of Defence Ministers which will be held via secure teleconference on 15 April, he was asked whether the participation of the Ukrainian AN-225 Mriya, AN-22 Antey and AN-124 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.
Ukrainian largest aircraft take part in NATO-supported Strategic Airlift International Solution, which provides NATO countries participating in the programme with access to heavy transport aircraft.
NATO member countries are pooling their resources to charter special aircraft that give the Alliance the capability to transport troops, equipment and supplies across the globe. Robust strategic airlift capabilities are vital to ensure that NATO countries are able to deploy their forces and equipment rapidly to wherever they are needed.
A multinational consortium of nine countries is chartering Antonov Antonov’s aircraft as a Strategic Airlift International Solution (SALIS). SALIS provides assured access to up to a fleet of AN-22, AN-124 and AN-225 aircraft in support of national, NATO and European Union (EU) operations.