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European Union leaders are set to grant Ukraine a candidate status to join the 27-nation bloc. It's a first step in a long and unpredictable journey toward full membership that could take many years to complete. Making Ukraine a contender now seems to be a done deal. But national leaders were initially divided on how quickly to embrace the war-torn country’s request to become an EU member, The Ukrainian government applied only a few days after Russia attacked its neighbor on Feb. 24. EU candidacy doesn't give potential members the automatic right to join the bloc. The start of membership negotiations will depend on Ukraine meeting essential political and economic conditions.

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