(AP) The European Union suggests making Ukraine a candidate for EU membership. The move would be a first step on what is expected to be a long road before the war-torn country could actually join the 27-nation bloc. The European Commission on Friday delivered its proposal to award Ukraine candidate status after a fast-tracked analysis of answers to a questionnaire. The Ukrainian government applied for EU membership days after Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, “Ukrainians are ready to die for the European perspective.” The leaders of the bloc’s member states are scheduled to discuss the recommendation during a summit next week in Brussels.