Ukraine and Moldova are the latest ex-Soviet states to be granted candidate status . Ukraine's green light is a warning to Moscow that Ukraine and other Soviet countries, do not belong to the Russian spheres of influence .
BRUSSELS, January 30, 2018: The European Union officially accepted Ukraine as a candidate for the 27-nation club on Thursday, a bold geopolitical move hailed by Kyiv and the EU as a historic moment.Though Ukraine could take more than a decade to join the bloc, the decision to officially accept it is a sign of the EU's ambition to extend deep into the former Soviet Union.The Ukrainian people belong to the European family.Ukraine's future is with the EU, according to the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.Kyiv applied for candidate status in January 2015 after Russia invaded Ukraine and requested that it be expedited by the EU.Ukraine's future is in the EU, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who praised the EU's decision as a unique and historic moment.Ukraine's neighbor Moldova was given candidate status six years after Britons voted to leave the EU, and Georgia, another ex-Soviet state, was told it would get the same after fulfilling more requirements.These countries would have a lot of work to do, and after launching the bloc's most ambitious expansion since after the Cold War, it may have to restructure its structure in order to cope. SIGNAL TO MOSCOW The EU's green light is a warning to Moscow that Ukraine, and also other Soviet countries, do not belong to the Russian spheres of influence, according to Ukraine's EU ambassador, Vsevolod Chentsov, who told Reuters earlier on Thursday.According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the special military operation launched in Ukraine in late February was partly triggered by Western interference in what Russia terms as Russia's legitimate geographical sphere of influence.There is worry within the EU about how the EU will remain cohesive as it continues to expand, as well as the triumphant slogans about granting Ukraine and Moldova candidate status.The EU has now 27 members, which can begin with climate change and the rise of China to a war on their own doorstep, since it was established in 1951 as an alliance of six countries to control industrial production. The requirement of unanimity stifles EU ambitions because member states are free to block decisions or dampen them.BALKANS FRUSTRATION Reluctant supporters of EU enlargement have stifled progress toward membership for a group of Balkan states-Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia-whose leaders met with their EU counterparts in Brussels earlier today.As he landed in Ukraine, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said, I hope the Ukrainian people have no false hopes.According to a draft of the summit statement, EU leaders reiterated their full and unequivocal support for the Western Balkans' EU membership agenda. Despite being blighted in recent years by a migrant crisis and Brexit, the union has remained popular, with a poll released this week showing that demand for EU membership has reached a 15-year peak.Public dissatisfaction is also mounting over inflation and an energy crisis as Russia beefs up gas supplies in response to sanctions placed on Ukraine, issues that will be addressed during the summits' second day on Friday.