The European Union’s leadership on Thursday approved Ukraine’s candidacy for membership, starting a year-long path toward cementing closer ties with the West as it seeks to distance itself from its Russian invaders. does.
“Historic agreement, historic decision,” European Council President Charles Michel tweeted after the decision was announced on the first day of the EU leaders’ summit in Belgium.
European officials have said that Ukraine has already implemented about 70% of EU rules, norms and standards. But he warned that the country still needed political and economic reforms, pointing to corruption. EU candidate status does not guarantee Ukraine’s membership and does not provide for the military protections provided by NATO membership. Still, President Volodymyr Zelensky was upbeat.
“Sincerely appreciate the decision of the EU leaders to grant candidate status to the EUCO,” he tweeted. “This is a unique and historic moment.”
The European Union also granted candidate status to Moldova, a small, non-NATO country bordering Ukraine.
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Officials said on Thursday that the US would send $450 million in military aid to Ukraine, including more medium-range rocket systems.
Nike announced that it would completely shut down operations in Russia after initially suspending its company-owned business three months ago. “Our priority is to ensure that we are fully supporting our employees while responsibly scaling down our operations in the months ahead,” the company said.
Germany on Thursday activated the second phase of its three-stage emergency plan for natural gas supplies, warning that winter energy supplies are a concern due to dwindling deliveries from Russia.
Benefits to the Russian army, may soon see a ‘strategic victory’
Russian forces on Thursday overwhelmed two more villages in eastern Ukraine and sealed off the city of Lisichansk amid slow but orderly progress through Ukraine’s industrial hub.
The small areas of Lysychansk and sister city Severodonetsk represent the final obstacle in Russia’s quest to control the Luhansk region. Loskutievka and Rai-Olexandrivka collapsed a day after Russia rolled in the villages of Pidlisne and Mirna Dolina.
Adviser to the President of Ukraine, Oleksey Erestovich, acknowledged that “there is a threat of a strategic Russian victory (in the region), but they have not done so yet.”
The regions of Luhansk and Donetsk make up the Donbass region, which is home to the Russian separatist “republic”. After failing to capture the capital of Kyiv in the early days of the war, Russia has made no secret of its redirected efforts to control the Donbass.
Ukraine: US missile system promises ‘summer will be hot’ for Russians
Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said that the US High-Mobility Missile Artillery System (HIMARS) has reached Ukraine. He said that the Ukrainian military has already undergone special training in weapons in Europe.
The US provided ammunition that could hit targets from more than 40 miles away—valuable, but not the long-range missiles sought by Ukraine that could reach nearly 200 miles.
“Thanks to my colleague and friend @SecDef Lloyd J. Austin III for these powerful tools!” Reznikov said on Twitter. “The summer will be hot for the Russian occupiers. And the last for some of them.”
Don’t sleep on Russia, says Estonian PM Kaja Kailas
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kailas says the West should not underestimate Russia’s military capabilities in Ukraine, adding that Moscow is in it for the long haul as the war enters its fifth month.
Kailas said Europe should ensure that those who commit war crimes and attempted genocide are prosecuted, noting that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and an insurgency in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region. escaped punishment for supporting the U.S., which had killed more than 14,000 people even before this year’s war. began.
“I’ve heard things that, you know, are no longer a threat because they’ve exhausted themselves. No, they didn’t,” he said of the Russian army, which was taking Kyiv in the early stages of the war. and is now focusing its firepower in the East.
Contribution: The Associated Press