The EU has decided to make Ukraine a candidate for membership of the bloc, setting in motion a potentially yearslong process that could tie the embattled country further away from Russia's influence and connect it more closely to the West.
Membership less than a week after Moscow invaded on February 24.
The decision by the leaders of the 27 nation bloc to grant Ukraine candidate status on Thursday was uncharacteristically rapid for the E.U. The war and Ukraine lent urgency to its cause because of it's request for fast-track consideration.
Moldavia, which borders Ukraine, was granted the status of a candidate.
It could take years or even decades to gain membership. Countries must meet a wide variety of economic and political conditions, including a commitment to the rule of law and other democratic principles.
Ukraine will have to curb government corruption and adopt other reforms.
It will strengthen Ukraine, strengthen Europe. European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said before the announcement that it was a decision for freedom and democracy and puts us on the right side of history.
He said after the resolution passed it called for governments to move without delay and live up to their historical responsibility. The nations of Ukraine support Ukraine in its fight against Russia's invasion with money and weapons and have adopted unprecedented economic sanctions against the Kremlin.
Candidate status does not give an automatic right to join the bloc and does not provide any immediate security guarantees.
Once a country gains membership, it is covered under an E.U. The treaty clause that says if a member falls victim to armed aggression, the other E.U. Countries are obligated to help it by all means in their power.
Membership is economic because it gives access to a market of 450 million consumers with free movement of labor, goods, services, and capital.
Ukraine has a long aspired to join NATO, but the military alliance is not about to offer an invitation because of corruption, shortcomings in the country's defense establishment, and its contested borders.
Before the war, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO, which he condemned for its eastward spread to Russia's flank.
But earlier this month, he did not seem bothered by Ukraine's determination to get closer to the E.U. We have no objections because of the fact that it is not a military pact.