As the Russian-Ukrainian conflict enters its 120th day, European Union leaders are set to formally set Ukraine on the long road to EU membership at a summit in Brussels on Thursday and tomorrow, by awarding it official candidate status.
Although this path may take many years, according to more than one European official previously, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is optimistic.
Get out of the darkness
Yesterday, Wednesday, he praised the expected offer from the EU countries regarding the status of the candidate for his country, exhausted from battles against Russian forces in Donbass, in the east of the country. “I believe that all 27 EU countries will support our status as a candidate,” he said during a speech to students in Toronto via a video link.
He also considered that this expected decision might be akin to “going out of darkness into the light.”
The upcoming European Union decision may be like stepping out of the darkness into the light!
The move is largely symbolic, but it will nonetheless help raise the morale of Ukrainians at a very difficult time in the four-month-old conflict that has killed thousands, displaced millions and reduced villages and cities to rubble.
The conflict also had a huge impact on the global economy and European security arrangements, driving up gas, oil and food prices and prompting the European Union to reduce its heavy dependence on Russian energy. Also, he urged Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership.
Ukrainian flags with European Union flag and NATO emblem (Shutterstock)
It is noteworthy that many diplomats have repeatedly stressed that the step to join the European Union may take Ukraine a decade or more to meet the criteria and conditions for this accession, including the fight against corruption and the issue of human rights, minorities, democracy and others.
Nevertheless, many European leaders argued that Ukrainians were fighting for European values of democracy and that the bloc should make a gesture acknowledging their sacrifice.
Moscow, which launched a military operation on Ukrainian territory on February 24, had warned more than once of that step, and warned of the danger of the expansion of Western alliances, especially the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which it considers a spearhead against it.
It also considered that Kyiv’s accession to the Union would pave the way for its entry into NATO, which it sees as a red line for its national and strategic security.