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Ukraine's candidacy for EU membership is supported by the EU in order for Ukraine to "enjoy the European dream."

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - On Friday, the European Union approved Ukraine and Moldova as applicants for membership in the union, ext...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - On Friday, the European Union approved Ukraine and Moldova as applicants for membership in the union, extending deep into the former Soviet Union for what would be a momentous geopolitical change following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"Ukrainians are willing to die for the European viewpoint," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who was dressed in Ukrainian colours: a yellow jacket over a blue top, at a press conference. "We want them to share the European dream with us."

Russian President Vladimir Putin railed against the West, particularly the United States, in a speech in St Petersburg, but tried to downplay the EU issue.

He stated, "We have nothing against it." "It isn't a military confederation. Any country has the right to join an economic union."

However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier on Friday that Russia was closely monitoring Ukraine's EU application, particularly in light of greater defence cooperation among the EU's 27 members.

In February, four days after Russian forces rushed across the border, Ukraine sought to join the EU. Moldova and Georgia, both smaller ex-Soviet states with separatist territories backed by Russia, followed four days later.

Though the EU decision is only the beginning of a lengthy process that will require extensive reforms to bring Kyiv into compliance with a variety of standards ranging from judicial policy to financial services and food safety, it puts Kyiv on track to achieve a goal that was previously unattainable.

"Europe can construct a new history of freedom, and ultimately remove the grey zone in Eastern Europe between the EU and Russia, precisely because of the bravery of the Ukrainians," Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelenskiy tweeted.

One of Putin's key goals in waging an invasion that has murdered thousands of people, damaged cities, and forced millions of people to flee was to stop the West from expanding eastward through the NATO military alliance.

The war's opposite effect has been highlighted by Friday's announcement: encouraging Finland and Sweden to join NATO, and now the EU to start on its most ambitious expansion since embracing Eastern European members after the Cold War.

At a conference next week, EU leaders are anticipated to support the decision on membership candidacy.

Putin chastised the US for considering itself "God's emissary on Earth" in his speech in St Petersburg, and claimed that Western intransigence had forced Russia to undertake its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

He also questioned if allowing Ukraine to join the EU was "advisable," claiming that Kyiv would require massive economic subsidies that other EU countries might not be prepared to provide.

Russian media aired photographs of what they claimed were two Americans caught while fighting for Ukraine, adding to the global standoff. Both individuals claimed in separate video tapes broadcast on social media, "I am against war."


Although EU membership is not guaranteed - talks with Turkey, a candidate since 1999, have been postponed for years - Ukraine would be the EU's largest country by area and fifth most populous if joined.

All three ex-Soviet aspirants are significantly poorer than present EU members, with per capita output roughly half that of Bulgaria, the current worst. They also have a recent history of tumultuous politics, organised crime, and clashes with rebels backed by Russia.

However, Ukraine and Moldova have pro-Western leaders in Zelenskiy, 44, and Sandu, 50, who represent a generation that grew up outside the Soviet Union.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was the most recent foreign dignitary to visit Kyiv, offering training to Ukrainian military and promising to abide alongside the Ukrainian people "until you ultimately succeed."

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stressed in an online article published by Foreign Policy on Friday that the West should not "suggest peace initiatives with unacceptable terms," an apparent reference to remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this month that Russia must not be humiliated if a diplomatic solution is to be found.

Instead, it should assist Ukraine in winning by maintaining and strengthening sanctions against Moscow, not merely by delivering heavy weapons.

"Regardless of the broader economic repercussions, the West cannot afford sanctions fatigue," he said. "Right now, it's evident that Putin's only way to the bargaining table is to lose on the battlefield."

Within Ukraine, Russian forces were thwarted in an effort to take Kyiv in March, but have since refocused on the Donbas area in the east, which Moscow claims on behalf of separatist proxies, blasting their way into cities in a brutal attritional phase of the war.

Officials from Ukraine stated their troops were still holding out in Sievierodonetsk, the scene of the most recent battle, but that owing to bombardment and fierce combat, it was impossible to rescue more than 500 civilians trapped inside a chemical factory.

In an online statement on Friday, regional governor Serhiy Gaidai also stated that due to Russian bombardment, a crucial roadway leading out of Sievierodonetsk's sister city of Lysychansk is now impassable.

Ukraine has launched a counter-offensive in the south, claiming to have gained land seized by Russia.

It was Ukraine's first successful hit with a Western-supplied anti-ship missile, striking a Russian vessel transporting soldiers, guns, and ammo to Russian-occupied Snake Island, a crucial Black Sea outpost.

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