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EU Executive to Propose Starting Membership Talks With Ukraine as Russia War Drags on

The European Union executive will recommend on Wednesday that the bloc open membership negotiations with Kyiv once it meets outstanding conditions, two EU officials said on Monday, more than 20 months since Russia invaded Ukraine.

In Kyiv, a senior government official said Ukraine expected the European Commission to deliver a “positive” appraisal of its membership bid, a coveted prize as troops face battle fatigue and concerns swirl over the future of vital U.S. military aid.

The Commission will assess Ukraine across seven reform areas in a report that will inform a key decision in December at a summit of the EU’s national leaders on whether to start formal membership negotiations with Kyiv.

Both EU officials said the recommendations meant formal negotiations with Kyiv – and another EU candidate Moldova – could start next year.

They added the Commission’s report, which will also cover progress towards membership by other EU hopefuls, was still to be finalised before official publication.

Membership negotiations typically take years before candidates meet extensive legal and economic criteria to join, and the bloc is wary of taking in a country at war.

Still, advancing Western integration is a top priority for Ukraine, a former Soviet republic of some 44 million people sitting between Russia and the EU.

Backers of bringing Ukraine closer to the EU speak of a geo-strategic necessity.

“The consensus is clear,” said a senior French diplomat, adding that support for Ukraine remained “very solid” in the EU and the bloc could not afford to lose out against Russia.

Hungary – where Prime Minister Viktor Orban prides himself on his contacts with Moscow – has become the main potential opponent of a positive decision for Kyiv in December, which will require unanimous backing of all the bloc’s 27 member states.

Source : Reuters