BRUSSELS -- Wednesday's rousing plea by the speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament for Ukraine to be made for European Union membership. This would allow the nation, which has been devastated by war, to get closer to the EU but not guarantee its admission.
Ruslan Stefanchuk was chairman of Verkhovna Rada Ukraine and told EU lawmakers that failure to give Ukraine an indication of an open door would send a clear message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he "can be totally going ahead without any punishment."
The European heads of government and state are expected to examine Ukraine's application for EU candidate status by the end of June. Already, the European Parliament passed a resolution in support of Ukraine becoming a member candidate.
Stefanchuk stated, "Let's make sure that we see a watershed, an important day in our history, and our collective great victory on the 24th June."
The European Commission, which is the EU's executive arm and will present its opinion next week, based on Ukraine’s responses to a questionnaire. Received in April and May.
The EU and Ukraine have an association agreement that is currently in place. It is intended to open Ukraine's market and bring it closer to Europe. It also includes a wide-reaching, free trade pact.
Roberta Mestola is the president of the EU legislature. She stated that lawmakers will continue to support Ukraine's efforts to attain candidate status. Metsola stated that Ukraine would benefit from the next step in its accession process by integrating into the region.
Since February, the 27 EU countries have unified to support Ukraine's resistance against Russia's invasion. They also adopted unprecedented economic sanctions on Moscow.
Leaders are divided about how fast the EU should accept Ukraine as a member. The EU's current members must agree to admit a new member.
France's government stated that it doesn't believe Ukraine will join the EU anytime soon. It said the process would take years and "probably several decades."
Although the Ukrainian bid has been supported by many countries in Eastern Europe, EU officials stress that it could take several years.
On Wednesday, Micheal Martin, the Irish Prime Minister, backed Ukraine's application. He said that he hoped EU leaders would send a positive message to Ukraine's people.
Martin is one of the EU leaders who met at the June 23-24 summit.
Martin believes that the EU should support anyone looking to join the process of reforms and preparations. He states that Ireland's experience shows that EU membership is transformative.
Lorne Cook contributed to the story.
Follow AP's coverage of the Ukraine war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine