European Union leaders are set to grant Ukraine a candidate status to join the 27-nation bloc.
It's a first step in a long and unpredictable journey toward full membership that could take many years to complete. Making Ukraine a contender now seems to be a done deal. But national leaders were initially divided on how quickly to embrace the war-torn country’s request to become an EU member.
The Ukrainian government applied only a few days after Russia attacked its neighbor on Feb. 24. EU candidacy doesn't give potential members the automatic right to join the bloc.
The start of membership negotiations will depend on Ukraine meeting essential political and economic conditions.
Four European leaders recently visited Kyiv jointly and stood next to Volodymyr Zelenskyy at a news conference. The leaders of France, Italy, Germany and Romania expressed support for Ukraine's admission.
“I want to say today that the most important message of our visit is that Italy wants Ukraine in the European Union and wants Ukraine to have candidate status and will support this position in the next European Council,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said during a joint press conference in Kyiv.