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European Parliament votes to give Ukraine candidate membership

THE European Parliament voted to grant Ukraine candidate status today as Russian troops advanced in the Donbass.

Lugansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said the invaders had taken two more villages around Severodonetsk and risked surrounding Ukrainian troops in Lysychansk — meaning they might have to abandon the city to prevent encirclement.

Russia said it had bombed Ukrainian military positions in Mykolaiv and it continued to bombard Severodonetsk, Kharkiv and Lysychansk.

But the military setbacks for Ukraine were offset by the European Parliament’s vote to give it candidate status, a largely symbolic move since progress towards actual membership is glacial.

It voted 529 to 45 in favour of access, with the decision due to be finalised by the Council of Europe, the body representing the governments of each member state.

The European Commission had recommended Ukraine and Moldova for candidate status, but said it had reservations about an application from Georgia. It praised Ukraine’s commitment to democracy, though the Kiev government has banned opposition parties and media.

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