EU backs Ukraine's membership bid as war brings huge shift

STORY: "Let me start with Ukraine. The Commission recommends to the council first that Ukraine is given European perspective and second that Ukraine is given candidate status.”

The European Commission gave its blessing to the war-torn country on Friday (June 17), taking it a step closer to joining the European Union.

It's the most dramatic geopolitical shift to result from Russia's invasion.

And one hailed by the country's President Voloymyr Zelenskiy on Twitter as a decision he called "the first step on the EU membership path that'll certainly bring our victory closer."

Announcing the historic decision - wearing a yellow blazer and blue shirt - President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen said it was conditional on certain reforms, likely including tackling endemic corruption.

"Ukraine has clearly demonstrated the country's aspiration and the country's determination to live up to European values and standards... And we all know that Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us, the European dream."

The path to membership could take years, 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.

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 - smaller ex-Soviet states also contending with separatist regions occupied by Russian troops.

While recommending candidate status for Moldova, the Commission held off for Georgia, which it said must meet more conditions first.

The Kremlin said on Friday it was closely following Ukraine's efforts to become a member of the EU, adding it required "heightened attention".

EU leaders are expected to endorse the decision at a summit next week.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting