The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

European Commission backs Kyiv’s E.U. ambitions as Putin lashes out at West

French President Emmanuel Macron said during a visit to Kyiv with other European leaders on June 16 that Ukraine can count on its allies. (Video: Reuters)

This live coverage has ended. For Saturday’s live updates, click here.

BRUSSELS — 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.

View live politics updates

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.

Putin also lashed out at the West on Friday, describing the sanctions against Russia as “reckless and insane.”

Here’s what else to know

  • Russia has sharply reduced gas flow to Europe, a move officials say is deliberate political retribution for Europe’s support for Kyiv.
  • Ukrainian forces struck a Russian naval tugboat with at least one U.S.-made Harpoon anti-ship missile, a U.S. defense official said Friday, confirming a claim by the Ukrainian military.
  • A former U.S. soldier who disappeared in Ukraine is alive, family members said Friday.
  • Zelensky met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday, as the British leader came with a new offer to help train Ukrainian armed forces.
  • Putin’s speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, sometimes called the “Russian Davos,” was delayed due to a cyberattack, according to the Kremlin.
  • The war has pushed global displacement figures to record levels, the U.N. refugee agency has said — over 100 million people have been forced to flee their homes, up from 89.3 million at the end of 2021.