As the war in eastern Ukraine rages on, Kyiv received a major boost when the European Union recommended that she become a candidate to join the bloc, in what would be a dramatic geopolitical shift after the invasion of Russia.

EU leaders are expected to endorse the EU executive’s recommendations for Ukraine and neighboring Moldova, announced Friday, at a summit next week.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tweeted that the bravery of Ukrainians had created the opportunity for Europe to “create a new story of freedom and finally remove the gray area in Eastern Europe between the EU and Russia” .

In his overnight address on national television, Zelenskiy said the decision of EU member states remained to be seen, but added: “You can only imagine a really strong European force, European independence and European development. with Ukraine”.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the executive’s decision while dressed in Ukrainian colors – a yellow blazer over a blue blouse.

“Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective,” she said. “We want them to live the European dream with us.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin railed against the West, the United States in particular, in a grievance-filled speech in St Petersburg on Friday, but sought to downplay the EU issue.

“We have nothing against it,” he said. “It’s not a military bloc. It’s every country’s right to join the economic union.”

However, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was closely following Ukraine’s EU bid, especially in light of increased defense cooperation within the 27-member bloc. members.