European Union leaders agreed to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova on Thursday as President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the move as “a unique and historic moment”.
The move allows both countries to enter into a year-long path toward joining the EU with several steps to be taken before it becomes a member of the European alliance.
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Ukraine had applied to become an EU candidate just days after President Vladimir Putin launched his “special military operation” against Ukraine on February 24 as Russian forces invaded the neighbouring country.
“A historic moment. Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” chief of EU Charles Michel said, adding, “our future is together.”
Watch| Ukraine war: Intense fighting underway in Luhansk region
The development comes even as Russian forces continue to pound key cities in eastern Ukraine as the war entered the fourth month this week.
Zelensky said it “is a unique and historic moment in Ukraine-EU relations, adding,”Ukraine’s future is within the EU”.
Heavy fighting has been reported in Slovyansk and Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine even as civilian evacuations continue in the region.
Meanwhile, Russia slashed gas supply to Germany as the country raised the alert level under an emergency plan bringing Berlin closer to gas rationing amid deteriorating relations with Russia.
Kremlin said there was “no double meaning” behind the cut in gas supply to Germany. Russian energy giant Gazprom had earlier cut gas supply to Poland, Bulgaria, Finland and the Netherlands.
(With inputs from Agencies)
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