Ukraine: Putin humiliated as written military orders recovered
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EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen announced the news on Friday adding that this was on understanding that Ukraine carry out a number of reforms.
She told reporters in Brussels: “Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the country’s aspiration and the country’s determination to live up to European values and standards.”
For her statement, Mrs von der Leyen wore Ukraine’s colours, a yellow blazer over a blue shirt.
Ukraine applied to join the EU just four days after Russian troops poured across its border in February. Four days later, so did Moldova and Georgia – two other ex-Soviet states contending with separatist regions occupied by Russian troops.
The leaders of the three biggest EU powers – Germany, France and Italy – signalled their solidarity on Thursday by visiting Kyiv, along with the president of Romania.
“Ukraine belongs to the European family,” Germany’s Olaf Scholz said after meeting President Volodymyr Zelensky. EU leaders are expected to endorse the Commission’s recommendation at a summit next week.
The countries will still face a lengthy process to achieve the standards required for membership, and there are other candidates in the waiting room. Nor is membership guaranteed – talks have been stalled for years with Turkey, officially a candidate since 1999.
But launching the candidacy process, a move that would have seemed unthinkable just months ago, amounts to a shift on par with the decision in the 1990s to welcome the ex-Communist countries of Eastern Europe.
“Precisely because of the bravery of the Ukrainians, Europe can create a new history of freedom, and finally remove the grey zone in Eastern Europe between the EU and Russia,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly video address.
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“Ukraine has come close to the EU, closer than any time since independence,” he said, mentioning unspecified “good news” to come.
If admitted, Ukraine would be the EU’s largest country by area and its fifth most populous. All three hopefuls are far poorer than any existing EU members, with per capita output around half that of the poorest, Bulgaria.
All have recent histories of volatile politics, domestic unrest, entrenched organised crime, and unresolved conflicts with Russian-backed separatists proclaiming sovereignty over territory protected by Moscow’s troops.
President Vladimir Putin ordered his “special military operation” officially to disarm and “denazify” Ukraine. One of his main objectives was to halt the expansion of Western institutions which he called a threat to Russia.
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But the war, which has killed thousands of people, destroyed whole cities and set millions to flight, has had the opposite effect. Finland and Sweden have applied to join the NATO military alliance, and the EU has opened its arms to the east.
Within Ukraine, Russian forces were defeated in an attempt to storm the capital in March, but have since refocused on seizing more territory in the east.
The nearly four-month-old war has entered a punishing attritional phase, with Russian forces relying on their massive advantage in artillery firepower to blast their way into Ukrainian cities.
Ukrainian officials said their troops were still holding out in Sievierodonetsk, the site of the worst fighting of recent weeks, on the east bank of the Siverskyi Donets river. It was impossible to evacuate more than 500 civilians who are trapped inside a chemical plant, the regional governor said.
In the surrounding Donbas region, which Moscow claims on behalf of its separatist proxies, Ukrainian forces are mainly defending the river’s opposite bank.
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