- The Ukrainian president said he has officially applied to have Ukraine join the European Union.
- “I’m sure it’s feasible,” Zelensky said in a post on social media amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has previously said the EU wants Ukraine to join.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday said he officially applied to have Ukraine join the European Union as his country remains under attack by Russian forces.
“Today I signed the application for Ukraine’s membership in the European Union. I’m sure it’s feasible,” Zelensky said in a post on his social-media platforms alongside photos of him signing the documents.
Since Russia’s invasion last week, the EU has taken drastic steps to assist Ukraine, including sending weapons, banning Russian planes from flying over its airspace, barring Russian media, and imposing economic sanctions. In addition, many of those leaving Ukraine are going to neighboring countries that are members of the EU, such as Poland.
Earlier Monday, Zelensky urged the European Union to grant his country “immediate” membership into the 27-nation bloc amid the Russian invasion.
“We appeal to the European Union for Ukraine’s immediate accession under a new special procedure,” Zelensky said in a video address, according to a translation from The New York Times.
The Ukrainian president continued, “We are grateful to our partners for supporting us, but our goal is to stand alongside all Europeans, and most importantly, stand on their level.”
“I am confident that this is fair,” he said. “I am confident that we deserve this. I am confident that all this is possible.”
A spokesperson for the European Commission told Insider on Monday, “Applications are sent to the council, and the decision must be taken by unanimity by EU member states.” The spokesperson did not confirm that the governing body received Zelensky’s application.
Over the weekend, Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, said the European Union wants Ukraine as a member.
“Indeed over time, they belong to us. They are one of us and we want them in,” von der Leyen told Euronews.
The outlet reported that von der Leyen did not specify whether the process for Ukraine to join would be as quick as Zelensky has hoped.
The process of joining the European Union typically takes years, and accession requires unanimous support from current member states. As the European Union’s website states, “Becoming a member of the EU is a complex procedure which does not happen overnight…Due to the huge volume of EU rules and regulations each candidate country must adopt as national law, the negotiations take time to complete.”
In short, Zelensky’s move to see Ukraine join the European Union is largely symbolic for the time being.
Regardless, this development will undoubtedly enrage Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has for years complained of Ukraine’s growing ties to Western institutions like the European Union and NATO.
Putin in many ways launched this war as part of an effort to reestablish Moscow’s influence in the former Soviet republic, made clear by his ahistorical assertion that Ukraine was created by Russia. Zelensky could potentially use the prospect of Ukraine joining the bloc as leverage in any peace talks with Russia.