European Union leaders on Thursday agreed to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, in a show of support in the face of Russia's war, EU chief Charles Michel said. 

"A historic moment. Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU," Michel wrote on Twitter during a summit in Brussels. 

"Our future is together."

The move sets the two ex-Soviet nations at the start of a years-long path towards joining the bloc that entails major reforms and protracted negotiations. 

The EU has laid out a series of steps for Kyiv to take, including on bolstering the rule-of-law and fighting corruption, before it can progress to the next stage entailing accession talks.

Ukraine applied to become an EU candidate in a bid to cement its place in Europe just days after Moscow launched its devastating invasion.

Moldova and Georgia, two countries that also have part of their territory occupied by the Kremlin's forces, handed in applications in Ukraine's slipstream. 

EU leaders agreed to offer Georgia a "European perspective" but said it must carry out a raft of steps before it can become a candidate. 

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola congratulated Ukraine and Moldova in a tweet, saying: "Today we gave hope. For freedom, for democracy, for our future. This is Europe's moment."

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