UPDATED: EU leaders to offer stronger bonds, deeper partnership to Ukraine -draft

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VERSAILLES, France, March 10 (Reuters) – European Union leaders will offer to strengthen the bloc’s bonds with Ukraine and deepen its partnership as the European Commission assesses if Kyiv is ready to become a candidate for full EU membership, a draft EU declaration showed.

Leaders of the 27-nation bloc are meeting in Versailles to discuss Ukraine’s bid to become a member as the Russian war against the country enters its third week despite massive western sanctions against Moscow.

“Following the December 2016 decision by the EU Heads of State or Government, the European Council acknowledged the European aspirations and the European choice of Ukraine, as stated in the Association Agreement,” said the draft declaration, which might still change.

“On 28 February 2022, the President of Ukraine submitted the application of Ukraine to become a member of the European Union. The Council has invited the Commission to submit its opinion on this application. Pending this and without delay, we will further strengthen our bonds and deepen our partnership,” it said.

The leaders also say in the draft that they will make sure that sanctions against Russia over its invasion will be implemented and that they are ready to add more measures if needed and would keep pressure on both Russia and Belarus.

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