The executive arm of the European Union recommended Friday that Ukraine be granted candidate status to one day join the 27-nation bloc.
The promise of membership in a union created to safeguard peace on the continent holds deep symbolism for the nation at war. But it is only the first step in a process that could take decades.
And it didn’t silence the guns and artillery that continue to kill civilians and flatten cities as well as sending millions fleeing from their homes since Russia launched its invasion of its neighbor on Feb. 24.
Russia pressed its attacks on cities in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, leaving desperate residents struggling to make sense of what the next years hold for them.
“We are old people, we do not have a place to go. Where will I go?” asked Vira Miedientseva, one of the elderly residents grappling with the aftermath of at attack Thursday in Lysychansk, which lies just across the river from Sievierodonesk, a key focus of battles in recent weeks that Russians have nearly captured.
The recommendation will be discussed by leaders of the 27-nation bloc during a summit next week in Brussels. Launching accession talks requires unanimous approval from all member countries.
The war has increased pressure on EU governments to fast-track Ukraine’s candidate status. But the process still is expected to take years, and EU members remain divided over how quickly and fully to open their arms to new members.
— Associated Press
►A third American who traveled to Ukraine to lend assistance in the war against Russia appears to be missing, amid growing indications the other two have been captured, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
►A Russian-owned superyacht seized by the United States arrived in Honolulu Harbor on Thursday flying an American flag. The U.S. last week won a legal battle in Fiji to take the $325 million vessel and immediately sailed it to Hawaii.
US to send $1B package to Ukraine
The U.S. announced it would send a $1 billion package of military assistance to Ukraine earlier this week — the largest allocation of aid provided by the U.S. since the invasion began.
The American aid package includes $350 million in rapid, off-the-shelf deliveries by the Pentagon and $650 million in other longer-term purchases. The U.S. military will send Ukraine 18 howitzers, 36,000 rounds of ammunition for them, tactical vehicles, in addition to other equipment like Harpoon coastal defense systems and secure radios.
Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Anna Malyar said this week that Ukraine had only received 10% of the military assistance it had requested from western countries.
Meanwhile, France, Germany, Slovakia, Canada, and Poland also pledged to send more military aid to Ukraine this week.
Russian spy attempted to access international court investigating war crimes as an intern, Dutch say
A Russian military spy posed as a Brazilian national in an attempt to get an internship at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, which is investigating war crimes allegations in Ukraine, the Dutch intelligence service said Thursday.
The General Intelligence and Security Service named the Russian intelligence officer as Sergey Vladimirovich Cherkasov and said that in April he used an elaborately constructed identity to try to infiltrate the court. It published a letter that accompanied Cherkasov’s internship application. Writing under the alias Viktor Muller Ferreira, he spun a complex cover tale about growing up in poverty in Brazil and how members of his family suffered from heart problems.
Cherkasov was detained at a Dutch airport and deported to Brazil, where he could face court proceedings.
“If the intelligence officer had succeeded in gaining access as an intern to the ICC, he would have been able to gather intelligence there and to look for (or recruit) sources, and arrange to have access to the ICC’s digital systems,” the General Intelligence and Security Service said in a statement.
That would have provided a “significant contribution” to the intelligence that Russia is seeking. The spy might also have been able to influence criminal proceedings, the service said.
There was no immediate reaction from Moscow, though the attempted infiltration may indicate how seriously Russian President Vladimir Putin is taking allegations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine. The Kremlin has consistently denied the accusation, saying the West was concocting a misinformation campaign against Russia.
– Kim Hjelmgaard
Contributing: The Associated Press