The European Union's leaders have agreed to make Ukraine a candidate for EU membership, setting in motion a potentially years-long process that could draw the embattled country further away from Russia's influence and bind it more closely to the West.
Ukraine applied for membership less than a week after Moscow invaded on Feb. 24. The decision by the 27-nation bloc to grant Ukraine candidate status Thursday was uncharacteristically rapid. But the war and Ukraine's request for fast-track consideration lent urgency to its cause.
The EU also granted candidate status to Moldova, which borders Ukraine. Gaining membership could take years or even decades. Countries must meet a host of economic and political conditions, including the embrace of certain democratic principles.