Monday, Nov. 27, 2023|
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BRUSSELS — The European Union agreed Thursday to put Ukraine on a path toward EU membership, acting with uncharacteristic speed and unity to pull the embattled country further away from Russia’s influence and bind it more closely to the West.
Meeting at a summit in Brussels, leaders of the EU’s 27 nations mustered the required unanimous approval to grant Ukraine candidate status. That sets in motion a membership process that could take years or even decades.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted his gratitude and declared: “Ukraine’s future is within the EU.”
“It’s a victory. We have been waiting for 120 days and 30 years,” he said on Instagram, referring to the duration of the war and the decades since Ukraine became independent. “And now we will defeat the enemy.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pronounced it a “good day for Europe.”
The EU also gave candidate status to the tiny country of Moldova, another former Soviet republic that borders Ukraine.
Ukraine applied for membership less than a week after Moscow invaded on Feb. 24. Thursday’s decision was unusually rapid for the EU and its go-slow approach to expansion. But the war and Ukraine’s request for fast-track consideration lent urgency to the cause.
To gain EU membership, countries must meet a detailed host of economic and political conditions, including a commitment to the rule of law and other democratic principles. Ukraine will have to curb entrenched government corruption and adopt other reforms.
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