The European Union has agreed to make Ukraine a candidate for EU membership, setting in motion a potentially yearslong process that could pull the embattled country further away from Russia’s influence and bind it more closely to the West.
Ukraine applied for EU membership less than a week after Moscow invaded on Feb. 24.
The decision by the leaders of the 27-nation bloc to grant Ukraine candidate status Thursday was uncharacteristically rapid for the EU. But the war and Ukraine’s request for fast-track consideration lent urgency to its cause.
The EU also granted candidate status to Moldova, which borders Ukraine.
Gaining membership could take years or even decades. Countries must meet a detailed host 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.