Ukraine's EU bid: 'What we've achieved in a year is unthinkable by normal standards'

Before February 24, 2022, few could have imagined that Ukraine would be awarded candidate status to join the EU in the space of just a few months. But the war on Ukraine has transformed the relationship between Kyiv and Brussels, evident not just in the various bilateral visits at the highest level, but also in the reforms that the Ukrainian government is undertaking. Ukraine’s ambassador to the EU, Vsevolod Chentsov, assesses the current state of affairs and outlines the steps ahead.

Remembering the shocking first few hours and days after February 24, 2022, Chentsov says: "From the rational point of view nobody expected that the Kremlin could go so far. Yes, we've been at war with Russia for the last nine years – at that point it was eight years – so we knew pretty well what Russia is capable of. But a year later I think we better understand why it happened, and the main reason is the degradation of the Russian state, of the Russian system; a lack of democratic control. And the result is one person taking a really crazy decision, and holding his own country and a neighbouring country hostage."

The ambassador is upbeat about the prospects for Ukraine to join the European Union. "We want to keep the high dynamics in this process," he says. "And what we've achieved in one year is unthinkable by normal EU standards. We have received candidate status; we started quite swift implementation of the seven steps that were suggested by the European Commission and endorsed by the Council. We are quite advanced on this path. We're working hard to get a positive assessment by the EU Commission in the spring, so that the Council can take a decision on the next step as soon as possible."

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