European leaders have granted Ukraine candidate status, in a historic decision that opens the door to EU membership for the war-torn country and deals a blow to Vladimir Putin.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels approved Ukraine’s candidate status on Thursday night, nearly four months after the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, launched his country’s bid to join the bloc in the early days of the Russian invasion. Moldova was also given candidate status.
Zelenskiy immediately welcomed the move, calling it “a unique and historic moment” in relations with the 27-nation bloc. “Ukraine’s future is in the EU,” he tweeted.
“It’s a victory,” Zelenskiy said on Instagram. “We have been waiting for 120 days and 30 years,” he added, referring to the duration of the war and the decades since Ukraine became independent on the breakup of the Soviet Union. “And now we will defeat the enemy.”
The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, declared it was “a good day for Europe”. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, said it was historic decision that sent “a strong signal towards Russia in the current geopolitical context”.
The move from applicant to candidate usually takes years, but the EU has dramatically accelerated the process, amid outrage over the brutality of the unprovoked Russian attack, and to show solidarity with Ukraine’s defenders.
“Ukraine is going through hell for a simple reason: its desire to join the EU,” von der Leyen had tweeted on the eve of the summit. The commission last week called on EU leaders to grant Ukraine’s candidate status. [Continue reading…]