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Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrive for a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Ludovic Marin/ Reuters

Ukraine’s long road to EU membership

The European Commission — the European Union’s executive branch — announced Friday that it would back Ukraine’s bid to become an EU member state. Such a hard-hitting decision by Brussels seemed like a longshot before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has sent shockwaves throughout the world. While this is just the first step in an accession process that could take a decade, it sends a powerful message of solidarity to Kyiv – and a strong warning to Vladimir Putin.

What happens now? The bid will go to a vote by the European Council on June 23-24 and will require the backing of all 27 member states to move forward, a process that can often be tumultuous. If the Council approves Ukraine’s candidacy, Kyiv will be required to introduce a host of significant economic, legal, and political reforms to meet the Commission’s criteria. This would be a massive feat for Ukraine, a country that has long been crippled by corruption and graft. Indeed, in normal times, this process can take 5-10 years, and the presence of an ongoing war will only draw out this process. What’s more, since 21 of the 27 EU states are also NATO members, membership to the EU will likely be perceived as a threat by Putin, and the Union’s expansion eastward as a sign of opportunity for countries like Georgia that are also vying to join the bloc. This makes the process even more complex. However, the Commission’s opinion suggested that one day — even far in the future — Ukraine’s membership to the EU could become a reality.

Ari Winkleman

The Graphic Truth: Who bought the most Russian oil?

Before Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine, Russia was supplying more than 10% of global crude oil supplies. That share has dwindled in recent months as many countries have (slowly) piled onto a boycott of Russian energy to punish the Kremlin for the ongoing onslaught. To make up the shortfall, the US has been pressuring other oil-producing behemoths – like the Saudis – to up oil production. There are even reports that Washington is contemplating the loosening of sanctions on pariah-state Venezuela to tap into that country’s vast crude oil reserves. We take a look at which countries imported the most crude oil from Russia up until recent embargoes were introduced, as well as which states have the largest proven oil reserves in the world.

This comes to you from the Signal newsletter team of GZERO Media. Subscribe for your free daily Signal today.

Ari Winkleman

Explainer: Why there’s a Y in Kyiv, but no “the” in Ukraine

Generations of Americans have known the Ukrainian capital, and the eponymous chicken dish, as “Kiev.” But most Western media now use “Kyiv.” Why?

The simple answer is that “Kyiv” reflects the Ukrainian version of the city’s name, while “Kiev” comes from the Russian.

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People fleeing Ukraine are seen after crossing the Ukrainian-Polish border.

Beata Zawrzel via Reuters

What awaits Ukrainian refugees?

War coverage often focuses on enigmatic leaders, such as Angela "wir schaffen das" Merkel, a rugged (shirtless) Vladimir Putin or this week’s internet sensation, Volodymyr Zelensky. Articles are dedicated to battlefield tactics, strategy, and even the length and shape of negotiation tables, but less is said of the millions of civilians caught in the crossfires.

In the past week, many have fled from Ukraine to neighboring countries. The media have focused on the European Union welcoming Ukrainians with red carpets, bucking the anti-immigrant tide that’s swept the continent in recent years. But it's worth digging deeper. What exactly has the EU committed to, and where might this all be heading?

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