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.
"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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