- Ukraine applied to be a member of the European Union days after Russia invaded.
- On Friday, the European Commission recommended that EU members officially consider Ukraine a candidate country.
- It could still take years for Ukraine to be made a full member of the bloc.
The European Commission recommended that Ukraine be officially considered a candidate country for the European Union, in a move sparked by Russia's invasion.
The Friday recommendation means that the commission, the executive arm of the EU, recommends that EU member states vote in favor of Ukraine being made a candidate country when they meet later this month.
"Ukraine has clearly shown commitment to live up to European values and standards," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted Friday.
Ukraine applied to join the EU four days after Russia invaded it.
A long road still awaits Ukraine before it could become an EU member, a process that could take years. Becoming an EU member requires meeting certain financial, legal and political criteria.
It is not clear what impact Russia's war will have on Ukraine's finances and other parts of the function of the country, and how they will affect Ukraine's progress with the EU. European leaders have also signaled concerns with longstanding corruption in Ukraine.
Von der Leyen said at the commission's press conference on Friday that her recommendation was made "of course, on the understanding that the country will carry out a number of further important reforms."
She also said: "We all know that Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us the European dream."
But the recommendation signals the strength of European support for Ukraine since Russia's invasion began, which has included EU members imposing sanctions on Russia, sending leaders to Ukraine, and also sending Ukraine weapons and aide.
The commission also recommended candidate country status for Moldova, which neighbors Ukraine.
Moldova also officially applied to join the EU after Russia invaded Ukraine, and has been touched by the conflict both through accepting a large number of Ukrainian refugees and as fighting takes place in Transnistria, a breakaway region backed by Russia.
The commission, meanwhile, said that Georgia needs to meet some more conditions before it can reach candidate stage.
Von der Leyen previously said that the EU wants Ukraine as a member, telling Euronews in March: "Indeed over time, they belong to us. They are one of us and we want them in."
When asked at the Friday press conference whether the European Commission's recommendation over Ukraine was decided only due to the war, Von der Leyen said that all of the commission's decisions are "merit based."