Dmytro Kuleba: EU must grant Ukraine membership now

The writer is Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

For two weeks, Ukraine, a European country, has been defending itself against brutal Russian aggression. The Ukrainian people are heroically fighting for their homeland, their identity, their freedom and their right to exist.

Today, our country is at the head of all Europe and the free world. We weren’t afraid to fight against one of the biggest armies in existence. The Russians have hit us with all the power they can muster from all quarters in hopes of eliminating independent Ukraine in just a few days.

Yet we have not weakened. In two weeks, despite using all his military power to destroy our country, Vladimir Putin could not achieve any of the strategic goals of his invasion. Neither Kyiv, our capital, nor Kharkiv, Odessa, Dnipro or almost any other big city was taken.

Ukraine is bleeding, but it has not fallen and it will not fall. I am convinced that our country will pull through, thanks in part to the support of our international partners. We will know how to defend ourselves. The question is: at what cost?

What Ukrainians are protecting today is not only our land, but also the values ​​we stand for. Even as we defend the vision of a Europe as a whole, free and at peace, we reject the vision of a Europe as a Cold War battlefield of ideologies divided into various spheres of influence.

These times are truly dark and historic. The actions we take now will be remembered forever, one way or another. Future generations will judge us all – every politician, every leader, every nation. The names will be indelibly associated with the deeds done and the words spoken at this critical moment.

That’s why we have to look for great historical solutions. Ukraine, its President Volodymyr Zelensky and its people have already made their choice to fight for good against evil, however difficult, bloody and frightening that struggle may be. This is what we stand for and we will not abandon our core values.

Ukraine has now applied for early EU membership and I am grateful to the European Parliament for supporting our application. Standing ovations for Zelensky that day provided a moment of unity, solidarity and moral uplift for the Ukrainian people, as well as a boost to the European spirit.

Yes, we are currently in an extremely difficult situation. This is clearly not the classic EU accession process, which usually takes years and focuses on technical and economic details. But the decision to grant Ukraine EU membership could be a decisive victory for Europe and all its nations, all its leaders. Having made such a decision, all Europeans will be proud of it – proud to stand on the right side of history and make a moral choice for the ages.

I now want to address the skeptics who still think that Ukraine’s EU membership is a matter that should have nothing to do with Russia. In fact, Putin himself is obsessed with our NATO aspirations, not our EU membership. The idea that Ukraine’s joining the bloc would worsen the current situation is not convincing. I urge those who have held this view to abandon it.

The proposal to grant Ukraine EU membership is before us and I urge my colleagues in European capitals to give it the green light. This step would bring a huge dose of hope to the Ukrainian people. In these dark times, we need this hope more than ever. Opinion polls suggest that this decision is supported by a majority of EU citizens. EU leaders are capable of achieving this.

Our membership would considerably strengthen the EU. Today, Ukraine is a mighty force for good, a brave and intelligent nation that will contribute greatly to the political, economic, cultural and social strength of the EU after this war is over. It will be a question of prestige, as much as strength, for the EU to have a member like us.

The time has come to make decisions. We made ours. Leaders of the EU, it’s your turn to make history.

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