European leaders are poised to grant Ukraine candidate status for the European Union.
It marks a historic decision that opens the door for Ukraine to have membership to the EU bloc.
It also serves a huge blow to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
EU leaders meeting in Brussels are expected to officially approve Ukraine’s candidate status later today. It comes about four months after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky launched a bid for his country to join the EU in the early days of the Russian invasion.
Typically moving a country from an applicant to a candidate takes years. But the EU has dramatically accelerated the process amid outrage over the brutality of the Russian war against Ukraine, and in order to stand with Ukraine and show solidarity to the nation.
European Commission president Ursula von Der Leyen tweeted last nigh:t “Ukraine is going through hell for a simple reason: its desire to join the EU”.
Last week, the European Commission called on EU leaders to grant Ukraine an official candidate status.
Zelensky welcomed the expected positive decision to be granted official candidate status, saying that it was like “going into the light from the darkness.”
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said the candidate status would “draw a line under decades of ambiguity and set it in stone: Ukraine is Europe, not part of the ‘Russian world’”.
Since 2004, Ukraine has sought EU membership, after the “orange revolution.” It also again emphasized its desire to be a part of the EU since the 2013 to 2014 Maidan protests, which is when pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted after refusing to sign an association agreement with the EU.
When Zelensky announced Ukraine’s bid a few months ago for EU membership, some countries in western Europe showed skepticism. But being granted candidate status shows how much the mood has shifted, and how in support the EU is of Ukraine now joining.