KYIV: After Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, Ukraine became a candidate to join the European Union, a daring geopolitical action praised as a “historic moment” by both Kiev and Brussels.
As Russian incursions into two eastern Donbas cities near a “frightsome climax,” according to a Ukrainian government adviser, starting the lengthy road to EU membership will be a significant morale boost for the suffering country.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s president, said on Twitter that “Ukraine’s future is in the EU” after the formal declaration.
In a tweet, European Council President Charles Michel called it a “historic moment,” and he added, “Our future is together.”
The fact that EU leaders in Brussels have approved Kyiv’s application will enrage Russia, which is trying to force its will on Ukraine. On Thursday, Moldova officially joined the EU as a candidate, indicating that the group intends to expand its influence throughout the former Soviet Union.
In response to Western incursions into what Russia views as its sphere of influence, Russian President Vladimir Putin dispatched soldiers over the border four months ago in what he called a “special military operation.” Friday marks the four-month anniversary of that deployment.
Thousands of people have been murdered, millions have been displaced, cities have been damaged, and food and energy exports have been curtailed as a result of the conflict, which the West views as an illegitimate war of aggression by Russia.
Russia has concentrated its efforts on Ukraine’s southern and eastern regions following a failed attempt to seize the capital in the early days of the conflict.
The twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, located on each side of the Siverskyi Donets River in Luhansk region, are in the center of Ukraine’s attrition war in the Donbas.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a Zelenskyy advisor, described the conflict as “approaching a sort of frightening climax.”
A Shield for the Union
As a fellow former Soviet country, Russia has long been hostile to greater ties between Ukraine and Western organizations like the European Union and NATO’s military alliances.
Diplomats estimate that it will take Ukraine a decade or more to achieve EU membership requirements.
However, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was confident that Ukraine and Moldova will move as quickly as possible to enact important changes, notwithstanding the current political situation.
As a result of Russia’s incursion, both Sweden and Finland have applied to join NATO, indicating that the Kremlin’s military operations have had the opposite effect of what it intended.
Twenty-two-year-old serviceman Volodymyr Yanishan was delighted to hear that Ukraine had been accepted as a candidate to join the European Union eight years after major protests forced the removal of its former president.