Ukrainians on Friday, Dec. 15,  welcomed the European Union's decision to open formal membership negotiations, while questioning how they would progress as the country continues to fight a war with Russia.

On Kyiv's main street Khreshchatyk on a cold snowy morning, Andriy Dyachenko, a 32-year-old programmer, said he was happy with the announcement.

"Ukraine is moving towards Europe and is continuing on its path and developing in this direction. I think this is very good news," he said.

But Sergiy, a 27-year-old musician in a woolly hat and parka, cautioned that in his view: "We will not be allowed to join the EU while hostilities are ongoing: this can only happen in turn."

"They do not want to expose themselves to danger" due to the war, he said, referring to Brussels.

Lyudmyla, a 58-year-old accountant in a grey hooded coat, agreed, saying "we really want to be accepted" but predicting it will not happen "until we finish the war".


While it continues, "unfortunately no one wants to take us anywhere," she said.

The EU's announcement on Thursday came after the bloc overcame objections from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

But the authoritarian leader has threatened to use his veto powers to block a planned four-year, 50-billion-euro funding package for Ukraine from the EU budget.

In the United States, Republicans last week blocked President Joe Biden's request for emergency aid primarily for Ukraine and Israel.

Ukraine cannot win the war without aid from its international allies, warned Lyudmyla, who declined to give her surname.

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Meanwhile, the European Commission has begun screening Ukrainian legislation for compliance with European standards.

"Everyone is waiting for us to win, but we cannot win on our own. We are a small country, we cannot cope with such a colossus without the help of Europe and the whole world," she said.

Olena Zagorulya, a lawyer in a bright red puffer jacket, was dismissive of the EU decision, however, saying that Ukraine needs to learn to stand on its own two feet.

"Until we take charge of our own affairs and begin to resolve all our issues, we should not count on the European Union and America, we must rely only on ourselves," she said.


Oksana Skapa, a doctor, said she hoped Ukraine's accession could progress without waiting for the war's resolution.

"I hope that these will be parallel processes, because war is not something that can end quickly or tomorrow," the 35-year-old said while walking through Independence Square.

"If it finishes as soon as possible, that's wonderful, but if not, I would like it all to just move in parallel, so that it is another victory for our country."

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Comments ( 1)
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Britain left the EU for this reason.

Ukraine will give much more to the EU than it receives in return, they will set prices on your grain very low so that it does not upset existing EU farmers in Germany, Poland and elsewhere. Yes you have access to to help but the cost is very high and always somebody like Hungary will hold you to ransom.

The EU is not freedom, it is a yoke, a chain around your neck.

Whilst you rebuild a strong Ukraine after the war you will always have to obey the other 27 member states whom tell you how you must behave and interfere with your local laws and judiciary. Ask Boris Johnson, he will tell you why we left the EU.

Ukraine should make its own trade deals after the war, sell your grain for what it is really worth, be independent and set your own laws. Don't make the mistake we made in Britain by joining this club.

Join NATO, yes absolutely. That is different, a defence pact whose only demand is that you help defend other members if needed and spend at least 2% of your annual budget on the military. The EU is something entirely different, a trade alliance that benefits its wealthiest members like Germany and France.

Think carefully before you join the EU. Once you are in, it is difficult to leave.

Fabrizio Riva
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@Englander, this is cheap, and outdated, Brexit propaganda
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@Englander, UK should never had left EU, and now they regret it. UK was powerful enough, with the help of countries like The Netherlands, to change all the bureaucracy that undermines the EU. Ukraine has no choice but to join the EU, and it is almost impossible for them to join the NATO, as we are seeing now, because Putin will never accept that. Firs the war must end, and that is going to be very difficult, and once that has being achieved, Ukraine can have a powerful arms industry, as they have good engineers and experience. Of course Ukraine will have to compromise and can´t expect to sell all its grain to the EU without restrictions, but the amount of money they will receive will compensate. Now the problem is the war, and all the efforts must go to end that disaster.