Ukraine could soon begin its accession process to the European Union after multiple EU leaders expressed support for the country's membership, including the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
In an interview with Euronews, von der Leyen said Ukraine is “one of us and we want them in the European Union”. The announcement came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appealed to the EU for urgent accession under special procedures on February 28.
Shortly after, Zelenskiy signed the application to the bloc, stating on Facebook: "Today I signed the application for Ukraine's membership in the European Union. I'm sure it's real."
Officials in Brussels said Ukraine's admission "will need to be assessed very rapidly by the Council and the decision made as to whether to request an urgent opinion from the European Commission”, according to the Guardian.
Eight presidents from EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe signed an open letter on February 28 supporting Ukraine's accession to the bloc.
"We, the Presidents of the EU member states: the Republic of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Poland, the Slovak Republic, and the Republic of Slovenia strongly believe that Ukraine deserves receiving an immediate EU accession perspective," the letter reads.
"Therefore, we call on the EU member states to consolidate highest political support to Ukraine and enable the EU institutions to conduct steps to immediately grant Ukraine a EU candidate country status and open the process of negotiations."
Other European leaders took to Twitter to endorse Ukraine’s membership, including the Prime Minister of Greece and the Czech Republic, and the President of Romania.
Seperately, the European Commission and the association of the European electric power grids have also agreed to commence the process of emergency connection of Ukraine to the single electricity grid of the EU.
The integration of Ukraine with the European power grid has been discussed for several years. Energy cooperation is a key area in the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement, which includes the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. The agreement encourages a transparent power market in Ukraine.
“The DCFTA offers Ukraine a framework for modernising its trade relations and for economic development by opening up markets and harmonising laws, standards and regulations in various sectors”, according to the EU.
Ukraine has previously emphasised its desire to be independent of Russian energy.
"Ukraine's disconnection from the power system of the Russian Federation will lead to the loss of the latter's strategic influence on the electricity sector not only in Ukraine but also in European countries”, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal emphasised last year.