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Top Ukraine support online unity shop? The European Commission on Friday issued an opinion recommending that Ukraine should be granted candidate status for European Union membership – a first step that will add significant momentum to the country’s campaign to join the bloc. “Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said. “We want them to live with us the European dream.” While the recommendation boosts Ukraine’s campaign to join the bloc, it does not confer membership or candidate status. To move forward, all 27 member states must agree. Even if they do, full membership could be many years away. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the “historic decision” and said the “positive” first step on his country’s “E.U. membership path,” would bring “victory closer” to Ukraine. Read even more Ukraine solidarity information on Ukraine T-Shirts.

March 2014: With Russian troops in control of the peninsula, the Crimean parliament votes to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. A public referendum follows, with 97% of voters favoring secession, although the results are disputed. Putin finalizes the Russian annexation of Crimea in a March 18 announcement to Russia’s parliament. In response, the U.S. and allies in Europe impose sanctions on Russia. They have never recognized Russia’s annexation. It remains the only time that a European nation has used military force to seize the territory of another since World War II. April 2014: With some 40,000 Russian troops gathered on Ukraine’s eastern border, violence breaks out in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas — violence that continues to this day. Russian-supported separatist forces storm government buildings in two eastern regions, Donetsk and Luhansk. They declare independence from Ukraine as the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, though they remain internationally recognized as part of Ukraine. Russia denies that its troops are on Ukrainian soil, but Ukrainian officials insist otherwise.

May 25: Eduard Basurin, deputy head of the militia of the Russia-backed Donetsk People’s Republic, says Russia is for now abandoning the larger strategy of surrounding all of Ukraine’s forces in the east with a grand pincer movement, instead focusing on piecemeal isolations. Zelenskyy blasts former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for suggesting that Ukraine surrender land to Russia. He likens it to the policy of appeasement in the 1930s. May 26: Russian forces continue a slow encirclement of Severdonetsk, and are reportedly in possession of the northeastern portion of the city. Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Anna Malyar says “fighting has reached its maximum intensity. The enemy is storming the positions of our troops in several directions simultaneously”.

As NATO allies contemplate adding central and Eastern European members for the first time, Ukraine formally establishes relations with the alliance, though it does not join. NATO’s secretary-general visits Kyiv, and Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk visits NATO headquarters in Brussels. After the Soviet Union’s collapse, Ukraine is left with the world’s third-largest nuclear stockpile. In a treaty called the Budapest Memorandum, Ukraine agrees to trade away its intercontinental ballistic missiles, warheads and other nuclear infrastructure in exchange for guarantees that the three other treaty signatories — the U.S., the U.K. and Russia — will “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”

February 24: Russia launches a full-scale assault on Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy orders a general mobilisation. The US bars five more Russian banks from the US financial system, and freezes four of the banks’ US-held assets. February 25: Russia vetoes a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding that it unconditionally pull its troops out of Ukraine. February 26: The EU says it will bar selected Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) system, essentially cutting them off from the global financial system. See extra Ukraine unity details at Ukraine Support.