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BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders on Thursday are set to grant Ukraine candidate status to join the 27-nation bloc, a first step in a long and unpredictable journey toward full membership that could take many years to achieve.

Making the war-torn country a contender now seems to be a done deal after leaders were initially divided on how fast they could move to embrace the war-torn country’s bid that was launched only a few days after Russia launched its invasion on Feb.

24.

According to several EU diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity before the summit in Brussels, Ukraine will receive the unanimous approval that is required for the launch of discussions.

The EU’s 27 nations have been united in backing Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion, adopting unprecedented economic sanctions against Moscow. However, leaders were initially divided on how quickly the EU should move to accept Ukraine as a member, with the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark among the most skeptical.

But Ukraine’s bid got a boost last week when the EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, gave its seal of approval based on Ukraine’s answers to a questionnaire received in April and early May.

Ukraine received another shot in the arm when the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania visited the country and vowed to back its candidacy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he spoke with a total of 11 EU leaders on Wednesday, following calls with nine the day before, in another indication of how important EU candidacy is for Ukraine. He said the meeting in Brussels will be an “historic session of the European Council.”

EU candidate status doesn’t give an automatic right to join the bloc, though, and doesn’t provide any security guarantees.

For Ukraine, the start of accession discussions will depend on how the war-torn country will be able to meet essential political and economic conditions.

To be admitted, potential newcomers need to demonstrate that they meet standards on democratic principles, and they must absorb about 80,000 pages of rules covering everything from trade and immigration to fertilizers and the rule of law.

To help countries with candidate status, the bloc can provide technical and financial assistance throughout negotiations, but can also decide to revoke the status if the required reforms aren’t implemented.

European officials have said that Ukraine has already implemented about 70% of the EU rules, norms and standards, but has also repeatedly pointed out corruption and the need for deep political and economic reforms.

It’s unlikely that accession talks could start before next year, with the prospect that the war could drag on for a very long time adding to the uncertainty.

“Considerable efforts will be needed, especially in the fight against corruption and the establishment of an effective rule of law,” Belgian Prime minister Alexander De Croo said. “But I am convinced that it is precisely the (post-war) reconstruction of Ukraine that will provide opportunities to take important steps forward.”

Leaders will also debate Thursday a recommendation for the European Commission to grant Moldova — a tiny, non-NATO country that borders Ukraine — EU candidate status. The stalled enlargement process to include Western Balkans countries in the bloc is also on their agenda.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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Tags: the european commission european union leaders political and economic the war torn country corruption for ukraine in brussels in the bloc rule of law to join

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Host Leahy and All-Star Panelist Carmichael Discuss TN-5 Candidate General Kurt Winsteads Support of Governor Lees Inaction on National Guard Vaccine Mandate

Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Crom Carmichael in studio to discuss Tennessee 5th Congressional District candidate Kurt Winstead’s support of Governor Bill Lee’s inaction against COVID-19 vaccine mandates for Tennessee’s National Guardsmen.

Leahy: Crom, we are about to give one of the 5th Congressional District candidates a very hard time. One of the front runners, the three front runners are Beth Harwell, Andy Ogles, Kurt Winstead, and others in the race.

One of them, Geni Batchelor, will be here on Wednesday. Of course, Kurt is a retired brigadier general in Tennessee National Guard. We’ve also had on the program Jeff Bierlein, who’s a Blackhawk pilot, major West Point grad, who sort of has a different point of view on this particular issue.

And by the way, Kurt, you are welcome to come in and face the fire on this issue and maybe some others, because we have some questions that need to be answered about your positions, which don’t really strike us as conservative or clearly not 10th Amendment individual liberty supporting.

Here’s the story at The Tennessee Star. Top story by Aaron Gulbransen. Tennessee 5th Congressional District candidate and former Tennessee National Guard General Kurt Winstead aligned with Governor Bill Lee’s inaction on the Guardsman firing that is in process on June 30.

That was the deadline for those that refused to get their COVID-19 shot. And he spoke on another radio program yesterday.

Here’s what he said. And I’ll read this. It’s sort of lengthy, but we want to get his point of view out there. And then Crom, you can react. “I believe the governor is working hard behind the scenes, doing everything in his power to help Tennessee National Guard. No question in my mind.”

But Winstead defended Lee’s inaction, insisting there was nothing the government can do to help the Guardsmen, and only the federal government can take action. Here’s what he said.

The thing about it is, I explained earlier, this is a federal decision. It’s controlled by the federal government through the Department of Defense, which is responsible for training and preparation of all soldiers, whether they be active or reservist,s or National Guard. This is part of the mandated vaccine program. I disagree with the mandate.

But the federal government, they have the purse strings. The federal government pays through the National Guard. All the National Guardsmen, they’re all paid. The purse strings are owned by the federal government. That’s why it’s not a decision the government can make.

Leahy: That’s what Winstead said. But the members of the Tennessee National Guard called it a crock of fill-in-the-blank.

Carmichael: And I also think having in all of the Republican leadership in the legislature urged Bill Governor Lee to take specific actions to be as aggressive as he can in defending the rights of any Tennesseean who chooses not to have a vaccine.

Leahy: Exactly right. And here’s what one National Guard member told us yesterday, “Kurt Winstead knows that Governor Lee can ask Attorney General Slatery to sue the federal government.”

He also knows better than most that Lee is the commander in chief of the Tennessee National Guard. He knows Governor Lee has several options he can pursue.

If the former general cared about the soldiers instead of trying to get yet another government salary, he would have said so.” Now, that’s a hard criticism, but I think, from what I know, I think that the general is backing Governor Lee’s inaction on the soldiers under which he was formerly a brigadier general. I think it’s a very bad move by Winstead.

Carmichael: It is. In my opinion, it’s bad because he could have come out for the individual soldiers, but I’m not surprised. I have a friend of mine who sends me a lot of interesting articles from The American Thinker.

And one thing or another, he sent me an email kind of out of the blue saying he said, who are you supporting in the fifth Congressional district race?

He said I’m supporting Kurt Winstead. And I emailed back, and I said, I am astounded that you’re supporting somebody who is a career lobbyist.

And he emailed back, and said, what do you mean a career lobbyist? I’ve been listening to Kurt Winstead’s ads, and I said, exactly. All Kurt Winstead wants you to think is the conservative farm boy who married his childhood sweetheart.

He doesn’t tell you anything about his livelihood during his adult life. I said, did you know that in March of 2020, his wife, who’s a very, very powerful lobbyist…

Leahy: Democrat lobbyist, and partner in a law firm here that is one of the most powerful it’s right on their own website. It says Tennessee’s most powerful lobbyist sent her husband Kurt to Washington to open a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. in March of 2020.

And I emailed that to him, and I said, did you know that? And he said, no. He said I’m shocked. And I said, well, then get informed. Listening to Kurt Winstead’s ads will not tell you much about his life as an adult. Now, Kurt will tell you a lot about when he played football in high school.

Leahy: Kurt, I’m sure you’re listening, and, you know, look, we had a big platform here on this program, and we want to be fair to everyone and have an opportunity to address these criticisms.

The particular one here is, in essence, not properly representing what the governor can do. There are many things the governor can do that he’s not doing.

And Kurt Winstead said he is supporting the governor’s inaction and basically the word that members of the Tennessee National Guard who don’t want to take the COVID-19 vaccine, who are on the path to being discharged and may have already been discharged because of the June 30th deadline has passed, he’s not fully describing what the governor could do. I think it’s very bad. And Kurt, if you’re listening? Come on in, face the fire. Let’s have a nice discussion about your I

Carmichael: In essence, he’s siding with Joe Biden.

Leahy: In essence.

Carmichael: In essence, he’s saying by failing to say we should fight this with every fiber of our being, instead of doing that, he’s saying, oh, we can’t do anything. We can’t do anything. Let me say this. The word vaccine is a terrible word to use.

Leahy: It’s not really accurate to describe the covet.

Carmichael: It doesn’t last 120 days. It’s a booster shot at best. It’s a booster shot.

Leahy: I have a couple of exclusive comments about Kurt Winstead’s support of Governor Lee’s inaction from Tennessee National Guardsmen. Here I’ll read this quote. ‘The former general Winstead has abandoned the men and women he served with.

He couldn’t even be bothered to show up to support in support of the guardsmen who are losing their jobs at the event and the capital on Wednesday. He’s probably cozying up to Governor Lee in hopes of an endorsement for his campaign. It is just sad.

Winstead is an abject disappointment.’ That’s from one member of the Tennessee National Guard. Another one said this it’s so frustrating that he refused, Kurt Winstead refused to even explain that just because the funds come from the federal government and Tennessee state has control over those funds. Winstead knows that under Title 32, the state maintains control and the governor is commander in chief.

Listen to the discussion:

https://tennesseestar.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/715-Crom-and-Mike-on-Winstead-.mp3

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Reporwith Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.

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