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Kyiv granted E.U. membership candidacy in symbolic win amid war

European leaders are expected to formally accept Ukraine and Moldova as candidates to join the E.U. on June 23. (Video: Reuters)

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BRUSSELS — European Union leaders meeting on Thursday approved Ukraine’s to become a formal candidate for E.U. membership status, giving the war-torn country and its leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, a much-needed morale boost. The European Parliament also backed the move in a Thursday vote.

Candidate status is just a first step in a bid for full membership, which could take years or decades. But the decision is a major step for Europe, and sends a signal to Russia.

On the ground, Russian forces have made further gains south of the eastern city of Lysychansk, Ukrainian authorities said Thursday, with defending forces reportedly repositioning to avoid being encircled. The fall of the settlements of Loskutivka and Rai-Oleksandrivka came on top of Russia’s seizure of the strategic village of Toshkivka earlier in the week. Much of Lysychansk’s battered twin city of Severodonetsk is already under Russian control as Moscow seeks to occupy the whole of Luhansk province.

The E.U. has backed candidate status for Ukraine. Here’s what that means.

Here’s what else to know

  • The United States will send an additional $450 million in weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, including additional multiple-launch rocket systems and patrol boats to defend its shores.
  • Ukraine has received a batch of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, commonly known as HIMARS, from the United States, Ukraine’s defense minister said Thursday.
  • The sports apparel giant Nike plans to fully withdraw from Russia in the latest corporate move to isolate Moscow from the global economy.
  • Amid the invasion of Ukraine, the international view of Russia has taken a hit; the images of the United States and NATO have not, according to polling by Pew.
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Here's what to know:

The United States will send an additional $450 million in weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, including additional multiple-launch rocket systems and patrol boats to defend its shores.
Ukraine has received a batch of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, commonly known as HIMARS, from the United States, Ukraine’s defense minister said Thursday.
The sports apparel giant Nike plans to fully withdraw from Russia in the latest corporate move to isolate Moscow from the global economy.
Amid the invasion of Ukraine, the international view of Russia has taken a hit; the images of the United States and NATO have not, according to polling by Pew.

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War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The latest: Russia fired at least 85 missiles on at least six major cities in Ukraine on November 15, in one of the most widespread attacks of the war so far. The strikes came just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking by video link, presented a 10-point peace plan to G-20 leaders at a summit in Indonesia. As in previous Russian missile attacks, critical civilian infrastructure appeared to be primary targets. Parts of several cities that were hit were left without electrical power on Tuesday afternoon.

Russia’s Gamble: The Post examined the road to war in Ukraine, and Western efforts to unite to thwart the Kremlin’s plans, through extensive interviews with more than three dozen senior U.S., Ukrainian, European and NATO officials.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground from the beginning of the war — here’s some of their most powerful work.

How you can help: Here are ways those in the U.S. can support the Ukrainian people as well as what people around the world have been donating.

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