Wednesday, 10 August, 2022

EU grants Ukraine candidate status

BRUSSELS: EU leaders granted "candidate status" to Ukraine in its bid to join the bloc, as tensions deepened over Russian gas supplies and Moscow's forces closed in on key cities, reports AFP.

Russia is focusing its offensive on the eastern Donbas region, after being pushed back from Kyiv following their February invasion, and its troops are making steady advances despite fierce Ukrainian resistance.

In a show of support, European Union leaders agreed Thursday to grant candidate status to Ukraine, as well as Moldova, although the two former Soviet republics face a long path before joining the bloc.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the news as "a unique and historic moment", adding: "Ukraine's future is within the EU."

French President Emmanuel Macron said that the decision by EU leaders sent a "very strong signal" to Russia that Europeans support the pro-Western aspirations of Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin had declared Ukraine to be part of Moscow's sphere and insisted he was acting due to attempts to bring the country into NATO, the Western alliance that comes with security guarantees.

European powers before the invasion had distanced themselves from US support for Ukraine's NATO aspirations and EU membership is at least years away.

Ukraine and Moldova will have to go through protracted negotiations and the European Union has laid out steps that Kyiv must take even before that, including bolstering the rule of law and fighting corruption.