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Ukraine’s international minister sees E.U. candidacy as a vital step towards becoming a member of a ‘liberal empire.’


KYIV, Ukraine — Because the European Union summit started in Brussels on Thursday night, an aide to Ukraine’s international minister tuned into the proceedings on a laptop computer.

The minister, Dmytro Kuleba, whose left leg was in a good purple solid after a basketball harm, was upbeat as he watched the European Council grant his war-battered nation one thing it had been searching for with out success for years: the coveted standing as a candidate to affix the bloc.

It was among the finest items of reports for Ukraine, which is in its fourth month of conflict, since a profitable counteroffensive pushed Russian troopers away from the capital. Mr. Kuleba mentioned the council’s transfer was “crucial step in overcoming the final psychological barrier within the relations between Ukraine and the European Union.”

Nonetheless, he acknowledged that his nation must wait a very long time earlier than it may be part of the 27-member bloc. The motion by the European Council, composed of the leaders of the member states, was simply step one in a yearslong course of, and Ukraine must make progress on combating corruption and imposing the rule of legislation to lastly move muster.

“Certain, there will likely be talks, reforms right here and within the European Union,” he mentioned. “I don’t care. As lengthy so long as the choice that Ukraine is Europe is taken, I’m effective. Historical past has been made.”

Mr. Kuleba mentioned that for many years, as Ukrainians fought for democracy in protest actions in 2004 and 2014, Brussels and different European capitals nonetheless “had been entertaining this concept of a buffer zone of one thing within the center, a bridge between Russia and the E.U.”

Within the final section, he mentioned, European leaders had been unofficially “winking” at Ukrainian officers. “Like, ‘Guys, every little thing will likely be effective, it is going to take years, however ultimately you can be with us,’” he mentioned. “However they had been nonetheless afraid to say it out loud.”

As Mr. Kuleba was talking within the interview, air raid sirens wailed in Kyiv. An aide bumped into the workplace to say that there have been 10 Russian missiles flying above Ukrainian airspace.

“I’m not stunned that the Russians would fireplace one thing at Kyiv at the moment,” Mr. Kuleba mentioned, including that the symbolism of the day wouldn’t be misplaced on the Kremlin.

Mr. Kuleba, 41, a profession diplomat,

mentioned he noticed the European Union as “the primary ever try to construct a liberal empire” on democratic ideas, contrasting it with the Russia’s aggression towards former Soviet states beneath President Vladimir V. Putin.

“I perceive that individuals don’t just like the phrase empire, however that is how historical past is written,” Mr. Kuleba mentioned. “You need to present that various things of the same scale might be constructed on totally different ideas: these of liberalism, democracy, respect for human rights, and never on the precept of imposition of the need of 1 on the remaining.”

Mr. Kuleba mentioned he was grateful to different Western allies, particularly the US, for navy and political assist. Nonetheless, he mentioned he hoped for a extra specific articulation of Washington’s conflict goals.

“We’re nonetheless ready for the second after we hear a transparent message from Washington that for Washington, the objective of this conflict is for Ukraine to win and for worldwide legislation to be restored,” he mentioned. “And Ukraine’s victory for Washington means restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

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