Kyiv: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has hailed the European Union’s (EU’s) expected offer of candidate status for his country, adding he spoke to 11 EU leaders on Wednesday and will make more calls on Thursday, news agency Reuters reported.
European leaders will formally set Ukraine on the long road to EU membership at a summit in Brussels on Thursday. Though mainly symbolic, the move will help lift national morale at a very difficult time in a four-month conflict that has killed thousands, displaced millions and flattened towns and cities.
The war with Russia has also had a massive impact on the global economy and European security arrangements, driving up gas, oil and food prices, pushing the EU to reduce its heavy reliance on Russian energy and prompting Finland and Sweden to seek NATO membership.
The EU will temporarily shift back to coal to cope with dwindling Russian gas flows without derailing longer-term climate goals, an EU official said on Wednesday, as a tight gas market and soaring prices set off a race for alternative fuels.
Zelensky said he had spoken to 11 European Union leaders on Wednesday about Ukraine’s candidacy and will make more calls on Thursday. He said earlier he believed all 27 EU countries will support Ukraine’s candidate status.
“We deserve it,” Zelensky told crowds in Amsterdam via video link.
Diplomats say it will take Ukraine a decade or more to meet the criteria for joining the EU. But EU leaders say the bloc must make a gesture that recognises Ukraine’s sacrifice.