While the war is wreaking havoc in eastern Ukraine, Kiev received a major boost on Friday, when the European Commission recommended to the Council that Ukraine become a candidate to join the bloc, foreshadowing a major geopolitical change.
At next week’s summit, EU leaders are expected to approve the European bloc’s executive recommendations for Ukraine and neighboring Moldova, Reuters reported.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Twitter that only the courage of Ukrainians brought an opportunity for Europe to “create a new history of freedom and finally eliminate the gray area of Eastern Europe between the EU and Russia.”
As diplomacy moves forward with Brussels, intense fighting continues in the eastern Donbas region, where Russia is trying to consolidate and expand its recent gains.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid a surprise visit to the capital, Kyiv.
Zelenskiy said in a speech overnight that the decision of EU member states remains to be seen, but added: “You can only imagine a strong European force, European independence and European development with Ukraine.”
In fact, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced the decision while wearing the colors of Ukraine, represented by a yellow blazer over a blue blouse.
“Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective,” she said. “We want them to live the European dream with us.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin lashed out at the West, especially the United States, in a disgraceful speech in St. Petersburg, but tried to downplay the EU issue.
“We have nothing against her,” he said. “It’s not a military bloc. It is the right of every country to join the economic union. ”
However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was closely monitoring Ukraine’s EU bid, especially in light of increased defense co-operation between the bloc’s 27 members.
Ukraine has applied to join the EU four days after Russian troops landed on its border in late February. In a few days, it was joined by Moldova and Georgia, smaller former Soviet states that also have Russian-backed separatist regions.
Although it is only the beginning of a process that could take years and require extensive reforms, the European Commission’s decision puts Kiev on the path to achieving an aspiration considered inaccessible just a few months ago.
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