The European Union (EU) have confirmed that Ukraine and Moldova have been granted candidate status to the political group following a vote between leaders in the group.
The application for Ukraine and its neightbouring country Moldova was fast-tracked by EU leaders following the Russian invasion on 24 February.
Ukraine made the inital application less than one week after the crisis kicked off.
The move to become an EU member would push Ukraine further away from Russia’s influence and link it more heavily to the West.
Why has Ukraine and Moldova been granted EU candidate status?
Normally, an application to the political group takes years to process.
Countries are expected to meet a range of conditions in order to be granted membership.
For example, Ukraine will be expected to commit to curbing government corruption, as well as meeting a range of other reforms.
However, in the case of Ukraine and Moldova, this process has been heavily cut in order to provide support for the two nations amid the Russian invasion.
While Moldova itself has not been invaded, its position as one of Europe’s poorest countries on the border with Ukraine leave it in a precarious situation.
Despite being one of Europe’s poorest locations, the country has taken in over 100,000 Ukrainian refugees since the start of the war.
Why do Ukraine and Moldova want to join the EU?
The two countries see many benefits in joining the political organisation.
For example, it give access to a market of 450 million people, with citizens of an EU member state also entitled to freedom of movement between EU countries.
The move did not seem to rattle Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was quoted as saying that “we have no objections”, due to the fact the EU is not a military pact.
What has been said about Ukraine and Moldova’s applications?
The application of Ukraine was backed by The European Parliament, which requested that the EU “move without delay” in granting membership.
European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said: “It will strengthen Ukraine, it will strengthen Europe. It is a decision for freedom and democracy and puts us on the right side of history.”
European officials have said that so far, Ukraine has adpoted around 70% of the EU’s rules and standards ahead of being granted full membership, but have highlighted the need for action on government corruption and economic reforms.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said: “Considerable efforts will be needed, especially in the fight against corruption and the establishment of an effective rule of law.
“But I am convinced that it is precisely the (post-war) reconstruction of Ukraine that will provide opportunities to take important steps forward.”