Friday’s European Union blessing was given to Ukraine by the bloc to be an official candidate for membership. This is a historic shift in Europe’s eastward outlook that has been triggered by Russia’s invasion.
Just four days after Russian troops invaded Ukraine’s border in February, Ukraine applied for membership in the EU. The EU also accepted Georgia and Moldova four days later – two more ex-Soviet countries fighting separatist areas occupied by Russian troops.
Ursula von der Leyen, head of the EU’s executive Commission, stated in Brussels that Ukraine had “clearly demonstrated the country’s aspiration” and its determination to live up to European standards and values. The Ukrainian colours she wore to the announcement were a yellow blazer and a blue shirt.
At a summit next week, leaders of EU countries will likely endorse the decision. On Thursday, the leaders of France, Germany and Italy, the three largest countries in the EU, visited Kyiv with the president of Romania to show solidarity.
After meeting President Volodymyr Zilenskiy, Germany’s Olaf Scholz stated that Ukraine belongs to the European Family.
While the Commission recommended that Ukraine and Moldova be granted candidate status, it did not recommend Georgia as it stated that Georgia must first meet additional conditions. Von der Leyen stated that Georgia had a strong application, but needed to work together politically. Senior diplomats close to the process pointed out setbacks in reforms.
Ukraine and Moldova still have to go through a long process in order to meet the requirements for membership. There are also other candidates waiting. It is not guaranteed membership – talks with Turkey, which has been an official candidate since 1999, have been stopped for many years.
The launch of the candidacy process is a move that was unthinkable a few months ago. It amounts to a shift comparable to the 1990s decision to welcome ex-Communist Eastern European countries.
Zelenskiy stated in his nightly video address that “exactly because of Ukraine’s bravery, Europe can create new histories of freedom and finally remove the grey zone in Eastern Europe between Russia and the EU,”
He stated that Ukraine has been closer to the EU than ever since independence, and referred to unspecified “good news” in the future.
Ukraine, if admitted, would be the EU’s fifth-largest country in terms of area and most populous. With a per capita output of around half that of Bulgaria, all three candidates are much poorer than EU members.
Each has a history of volatile politics and domestic unrest as well as unresolved conflicts where Russian-backed separatists claim sovereignty over territory that is protected by Moscow’s troops.
Vladimir Putin officially ordered the “special military operation” to disarm and “denazify Ukraine. He called the West’s expansion a threat to Russia as one of his primary objectives.
The war has led to the destruction of entire cities, the deaths of thousands, and millions of people fleeing. But it has had the opposite effect. The EU has extended its arms to the East after Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership.
In March, Russian forces tried to storm Kyiv’s capital but were defeated. Since then, they have refocused their efforts on seizing more territory to the east.
The war, which has been going on for nearly four months, is now in a severe attrition phase. Russian forces are relying upon their huge artillery firepower advantage to attack Ukrainian cities.
Officials from Ukraine claimed that their troops were still defending Sievierodonetsk. This is the site of the most recent fighting on the east bank of Siverskyi Donets. The regional governor stated that it was impossible to evacuate more than 500 civilians trapped in a chemical plant.
The Ukrainian forces are mostly defending the opposite bank of the river in the Donbas region. Moscow claims this area for its separatist proxies.
The frontline was in the ruins city of Marinka. Ukrainian police entered a cellar to search for anyone who needed help. The group consisted primarily of elderly people who huddled together on mattresses by candlelight.
The south saw Ukraine mount a counter-offensive. It claimed to have broken into Russia’s largest swathe of territory that it had seized during the invasion. The situation in the area has not been confirmed by the frontline.
Ukraine claimed that its forces struck a Russian tugboat, transporting soldiers, weapons, and ammunition to Russian-occupied Snake Island. This strategic Black Sea outpost is also being claimed by Ukraine.
Russia’s blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports is a major concern of world leaders. This prevents exports from one the largest sources of grain in the world and threatens to create a global food shortage.
Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said he was sceptical that Moscow would accept a United Nations proposal to open ports.
He stated that he had spoken to President Putin a few weeks back, but that he did not want to agree to a U.N. resolution.
Russia accuses Western sanctions of causing the current food crisis. These sanctions are said to have harmed its grain exports and prevented Ukraine from opening its ports due to mines.
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