The European Parliament endorsed Ukraine’s bid hours before the summit started, passing a resolution that called on EU governments to “move without delay” and “live up to their historical responsibility.”

European Union leaders on Thursday were set to make Ukraine a candidate for membership in the 27-nation bloc, the first step in a potentially yearslong process that could pull the embattled country further away from Russia’s influence and bind it more closely to the West, reports AP.

Several diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of an EU summit in Brussels, predicted Ukraine would receive the unanimous approval required for candidate status. Ukraine submitted its application just a few days after Russia invaded on Feb. 24.

“It will strengthen Ukraine, it will strengthen Europe. It is a decision for freedom and democracy and puts us on the right side of history,” European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said ahead of the announcement.

A decision in Ukraine’s favor Thursday would be uncharacteristically rapid for the EU. But the biggest war in Europe since World War II and Ukraine’s request for fast-track consideration upended the bloc’s go-slow approach to expansion.

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