Ukraine on track for official EU membership

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Vladimir Putin has so far downplayed the issue of Ukraine’s EU membership. (Representative)

Brussels:

Ukraine is set to become an official candidate for European Union membership on Thursday in a symbolic but morale-boosting decision following the Russian invasion, ministers and officials announced on Tuesday. diplomats.

EU leaders in Brussels are expected to endorse last week’s recommendation from the European Commission, the EU’s executive. After several days of internal EU talks, no opposition among the 27 member states has surfaced, three diplomats told Reuters.

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“We are working to the point where we tell (Russian President Vladimir) Putin that Ukraine belongs to Europe, that we will also defend the values ​​that Ukraine stands for,” Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told reporters. ahead of a meeting with other EU ministers.

Moldova is also almost certain to gain candidate status, diplomats said, although Georgia must fulfill conditions, namely breaking the political deadlock in the country.

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Despite some reluctance among northern EU countries that accepting Ukraine, which suffers from endemic corruption, is unrealistic, the Danish foreign minister said he was happy to grant it the candidate status.

“It’s very good and it’s something Denmark wholeheartedly supports; we want to help Ukraine realize its European dream,” Jeppe Kofod told reporters in Luxembourg.

While the bid will mark a strategic shift to the EU’s east in the face of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Kyiv would likely take years to join the bloc, if at all.

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Ukraine has already concluded a free trade pact with the EU, but asked to join a few days after the Russian invasion. Moscow says its “special military operation” was partly necessitated by Western encroachment on what it says is its legitimate geographic sphere of influence.

So far, Putin has downplayed the issue of Ukraine’s EU membership.

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