Ukraine expects all EU nations would support its candidacy to join


Smoke rises over remains of a building destroyed by a military strike, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Lysychansk, Luhansk region (Photo: Reuters)

A Ukrainian deputy prime minister overseeing the country’s push to join the European Union said on Wednesday that she’s 100 per cent certain all 27 EU nations will approve making Ukraine a candidate for membership in the bloc during a summit this week.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna said the decision could come as soon as Thursday, on the first day of the two-day EU leaders summit in Brussels.

Asked how confident she was that Ukraine would be accepted as an EU candidate, she said: The day before the summit starts, I can say 100 per cent.

Countries that had been sceptical Stefanishyna cited the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark about starting accession talks with Ukraine while it is fighting Russia’s invasion are now supportive, she said.

The EU’s executive arm threw its weight behind Ukraine’s candidacy last week. Stefanishyna described that decision as a game-changer and said unanimous support from the European Commission had cut ground from under the legs of those most hesitating — not even sceptic — but hesitating countries.

Most of the EU leaders have explained that there is a consensus already, so there’s no like, no discussion about the consensus on Ukraine, she told The AP.

In other developments, press freedom group Reporters Without Borders said a Ukrainian photojournalist and a soldier accompanying him appear to have been coldly executed during the first weeks of the war in Ukraine as they searched in Russian-occupied woods for a missing camera drone.

The group sent investigators to the woods north of the capital, Kyiv, where the bodies of Maks Levin and serviceman Oleksiy Chernyshov were found April 1.

The group said its team counted 14 bullet holes in the burned hulk of the pair’s car and found litter seemingly left by Russian soldiers.

Russian forces have captured three villages in the heavily contested eastern region of Ukraine, a local official said.

Gov. Serhiy Haidai told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the villages are a few miles from the city of Lysychansk, the last city in the area still fully under Ukrainian control.

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