The European Union’s executive has recommended that Ukraine and Moldova become candidates for membership of the 27-nation bloc.
It is a major morale boost for Kyiv and further Western snub for Russian President Vladimir Putin after his invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine already has a free trade pact with the EU but applied to join days after Russia’s February 24 invasion.
Ukraine has sought EU candidate status since 2014 when protests in Kyiv toppled an unpopular president.
Russia has troops in Ukraine and Transnistria, a breakaway, Russian-speaking province along Moldova’s eastern side.
For the EU, the path towards membership requires deep reforms tackling endemic corruption in Ukraine.