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Ukraine accepted as candidate for EU membership as Donbas battles rage

Ukraine accepted as candidate for EU membership as Donbas battles rage

Updates from Day 120 of the invasion

  • EU begins two-day summit, accepts Ukraine as a candidate for membership.

  • Competing claims over degree of control of Severodonetsk in the Donbas.

  • Ukraine President Zelensky took his message to Canadian students on Wednesday.

  • Germany triggers new stage in energy plan, warns rationing in winter possible.

The European Union has agreed to make Ukraine a candidate for EU membership, setting in motion a potentially years-long process that could pull the embattled country further away from Russia’s influence and bind it more closely to the West.

Ukraine applied for EU membership less than a week after Moscow invaded on Feb. 24.

The decision by the leaders of the 27-nation bloc to grant Ukraine candidate status Thursday was uncharacteristically rapid for the EU. But the war and Ukraine’s request for fast-track consideration lent urgency to its cause.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the move, calling it “a unique and historic moment” in relations with the EU.

“Ukraine’s future is in the EU,” he tweeted.

The EU also granted candidate status to Moldova, which borders Ukraine.

Gaining membership could take years or even decades. Countries must meet a detailed host of economic and political conditions, including a commitment to the rule of law and other democratic principles.

Ukraine will have to curb government corruption and adopt other reforms.

WATCH l Zelensky tells Canadian postsecondary students of dangers of ‘Ukraine fatigue’:

Zelensky urges Canadian university students not to forget about Ukraine

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky virtually addressed university students across Canada to bolster support and help avoid what some have called Ukraine fatigue.

‘Fearsome climax’ in Donbas: Ukraine official

Moscow’s massive air and artillery attacks are aimed at destroying the entire Donbas region, Zelensky said in a video address on Thursday.

The war of attrition in the Donbas — Ukraine’s industrial heartland — is most critical in the twin cities of Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which straddle the Siverskyi Donets River in Luhansk province.

The battle there is “entering a sort of fearsome climax,” said Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Zelensky.

Ukrainian forces were defending Severodonetsk and the nearby settlements of Zolote and Vovchoyrovka, Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Gaidai said on Thursday, but Russian forces had captured Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka to the south.

Hundreds of civilians are trapped in a…

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