Ukraine was handed the application form to become a member of the European Union by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during her visit to Ukraine on Friday.
Von der Leyen told Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky that his country belongs to the European family, and that the EU is with Ukrainians in their dream of Europe.
"We have heard your request, loud and clear. And today, we are here to give you a first, positive answer," von der Leyen said.
"In this envelope, there is an important step towards EU membership. This questionnaire is the basis for our discussion in the coming months. This is where your path toward the European Union begins."
She added that the institutions will be at the country's disposal "24 hours a day, 7 days a week" to help them with this process. "Ukraine is a friend, we know this very well. Ukraine shares our values," she said.
We can never match the sacrifice of the Ukrainian people.But we are mobilizing our economic power to make Putin pay. We have imposed heavy sanctions against Russia & are already preparing the 6th wave. Russia will descend, while Ukraine is marching towards a European future. pic.twitter.com/PdRuB2gFJP — Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) April 8, 2022
Normally, the process to become an EU Member State is a long one, as it takes the EU Council years to accept applications, however, von der Leyen stated she aims to present it to the Council as early as this summer.
As part of the EU delegation's visit, officials also visited the town of Bucha, where almost one week ago, images showing the scale of alleged atrocities committed by retreating Russian troops — with bodies strewn across the streets, many with their hands tied behind their backs — shocked the international community.
"It was important to start my visit in Bucha today. Because in Bucha our humanity was shattered. And it is right and just that the world voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council. This war is a challenge for the entire international community. And this is a decisive moment," von der Leyen said.
- Kremlin admits to ‘significant’ loss of troops while continuing with atrocities
- EU freezes nearly €30 billion of Russian oligarchs’ assets
- At least 50 killed in Kramatorsk train station attack, of which 5 children
She also reiterated the financial support from the EU as well as the sanctions it is taking against Russia, including the fifth set of measures confirmed on Friday.
Signal of unity and control
Following European Parliament president Roberta Metsola's trip to the war-torn country, von der Leyen and EU Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borrell travelled to Kyiv to send a signal that Ukraine is still in control of its territory and that the EU is physically returning to Kyiv.
"And I mean this literally: our Head of Delegation is back here so that we can work even more directly and more closely with our Ukrainian partners, ensuring support for Ukrainians."
With this visit, the European Union is returning to Kyiv.And I mean this literally: our Head of Delegation is back here, so that we can work even more directly and more closely with our Ukrainian partners, ensuring support for Ukrainians.@EUDelegationUA #StandWithUkraine https://t.co/LDV5Taj866 pic.twitter.com/ku7y72l5kD — Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) April 8, 2022
The EU Advisory Mission, which was working there before Russia invaded the country, will "deploy effective means, tools, capacities" to support, Ukraine and Borrell announced the EU has also allocated €7 million to support the country.
Borrell also responded to Zelensky's repeated call for arms to be sent to Ukraine, stating the EU has allocated €1 billion for this cause. "I hope that in a couple of days, we will be able to allocate €500 million more. And we will do everything in order that these resources will be tailored to your needs, to provide you with the arms you need to fight to resist and to win," he said.