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Ukraine gains EU candidate status in ‘historic moment’

European leaders have formally accepted Ukraine and Moldova as candidates for EU membership, in a “historic moment” that will also deal a blow to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Although it could take more than a decade for the two countries to qualify for membership, the decision at a two-day EU summit is a symbolic step that underlines the bloc’s desire to penetrate deep into the world. former Soviet Union – in what the Ukrainian ambassador called “a signal to Moscow”.

Georgia also received a “European perspective”, but it must meet certain conditions before obtaining candidate status.

The European Parliament approved the nominations hours before the start of the summit, adopting a resolution calling on EU governments to “act without delay” and “assume their historic responsibility”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – who submitted the membership application less than a week after Russia invaded his country – hailed the EU’s unusually quick move, which he called “a unique moment and historic” in his country’s relations with the bloc. “The future of Ukraine is in the EU,” he said.

The Ukrainian president’s sentiments were echoed by European Council chief Charles Michel, who called it a ‘historic moment’ and a ‘crucial step on your way to the EU’, adding: ‘Our future is together’ .

Mr Zelensky’s chief of staff reportedly said that Kyiv would do everything possible to quickly implement a plan to open negotiations on Ukraine’s EU membership.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed confidence that Ukraine and Moldova will act as quickly as possible to implement the necessary reforms.

“There can be no better sign of hope for the citizens of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in these troubled times,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the summit.

“I am deeply convinced that the decision we have taken today strengthens us all. It strengthens Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia in the face of Russian aggression. And it strengthens the European Union because it once again shows the world that the European Union is united and strong in the face of external threats.”

His comments echoed those of the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, who said before the final announcement that this decision would “strengthen Europe”, adding: “It is a decision for freedom and democracy and puts us on the right side of history.”

Earlier on Thursday, Ukraine’s ambassador to the EU, Chentsov Vsevolod, told Reuters the green light from the EU was “a signal to Moscow that Ukraine, along with other countries in the former -Soviet Union, cannot belong to the Russian spheres of influence”.

He added: “There are Ukrainian soldiers calling home from the front line and asking: what is happening with our candidate status? It’s amazing how important it is for Ukrainians.

Additional reports by agencies

The Independent Gt

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