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Ukraine and Moldova launch EU membership talks, but joining is likely to take years

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Ukraine and Moldova launch EU membership talks, but joining is likely to take years
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News

Ukraine and Moldova launch EU membership talks, but joining is likely to take years

2024-06-26 00:47 Last Updated At:00:50

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Tuesday launched membership talks with Ukraine, a decade after Russian troops seized the Crimean Peninsula to deter the country from moving closer to the West, part of a chain of events that set the two neighbors on the path to war.

Ukraine’s accession negotiations were set in motion at an intergovernmental conference in Luxembourg. Just a few hours later, Moldova also launched its membership talks. While the events are a major milestone on their European paths, the talks could take years to conclude.

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FILE- Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy poses for a picture before an EU summit at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described as a dream come true for his country's citizens more than two years into a war with Russia. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union on Tuesday launched membership talks with Ukraine, a decade after Russian troops seized the Crimean Peninsula to deter the country from moving closer to the West, part of a chain of events that set the two neighbors on the path to war.

FILE - From left, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European Council President Charles Michel walk together to a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union later on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Moldova will also set its accession process in motion, as the EU hosts two intergovernmental conferences in Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

FILE - From left, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European Council President Charles Michel walk together to a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union later on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Moldova will also set its accession process in motion, as the EU hosts two intergovernmental conferences in Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

FILE - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, stands next to Moldova's President Maia Sandu, in Chisinau, Moldova, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. The European Union agreed Friday, June 21, 2024, to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja, File)

FILE - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, stands next to Moldova's President Maia Sandu, in Chisinau, Moldova, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. The European Union agreed Friday, June 21, 2024, to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja, File)

FILE - President of Moldova Maia Sandu, right, speaks during a joint press conference with European Council President Charles Michel, left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. The European Union agreed Friday, June 21, 2024, to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

FILE - President of Moldova Maia Sandu, right, speaks during a joint press conference with European Council President Charles Michel, left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. The European Union agreed Friday, June 21, 2024, to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

FILE - Girls walk by a EU flag installation in a park in Chisinau, Moldova, Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union later on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Moldova will also set its accession process in motion, as the EU hosts two intergovernmental conferences in Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru, File)

FILE - Girls walk by a EU flag installation in a park in Chisinau, Moldova, Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union later on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Moldova will also set its accession process in motion, as the EU hosts two intergovernmental conferences in Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru, File)

In this image released by Moldova's President, Moldova's President Maia Sandu signs the decree on initiating Moldova's EU accession negotiations in Chisinau, Moldova, Friday, June 21, 2024. The European Union agreed Friday to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (Moldovan Presidency via AP)

In this image released by Moldova's President, Moldova's President Maia Sandu signs the decree on initiating Moldova's EU accession negotiations in Chisinau, Moldova, Friday, June 21, 2024. The European Union agreed Friday to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (Moldovan Presidency via AP)

FILE - People holding European Union and Moldovan flags fill the Great National Assembly Square in Chisinau, Moldova, Sunday, May 21, 2023, at the end of a rally called by President Maia Sandu, aiming to show the country's support for European Union accession. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union later on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Moldova will also set its accession process in motion, as the EU hosts two intergovernmental conferences in Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja, File)

FILE - People holding European Union and Moldovan flags fill the Great National Assembly Square in Chisinau, Moldova, Sunday, May 21, 2023, at the end of a rally called by President Maia Sandu, aiming to show the country's support for European Union accession. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union later on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Moldova will also set its accession process in motion, as the EU hosts two intergovernmental conferences in Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja, File)

FILE - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, speaks during a joint press conference with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. The European Union agreed Friday, June 21, 2024, to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

FILE - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, speaks during a joint press conference with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. The European Union agreed Friday, June 21, 2024, to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

In opening remarks presented via video-link, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal described it as “a historic day” that marks “a new chapter” in his country’s ties with the bloc, particularly as the war with Russia rages on.

“We fully understand that there is still much work ahead of us on the path to accession. We are ready for it. We have demonstrated that we can move swiftly and achieve the impossible,” Shmyhal said.

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib, whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, described it as “a historic moment for us all, and marks a milestone in our relationship.”

Lahbib said the EU condemns “Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine and salutes the resilience of the Ukrainian people,” and added that the bloc will continue to support Ukraine in the war “for as long as it takes and as intensely as needed.”

Ukraine's delegation was led in Luxembourg by deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration Olga Stefanishyna. “This is a truly historical moment for my country. All the nation stands as one behind this decision,” she told reporters as she arrived for the ceremony.

Stefanishyna said the hope embodied in the opening of the talks will give Ukraine's citizens “the moral power to continue withstanding” the Russian invasion.

The intergovernmental conferences officially started the process of aligning the countries' laws and standards with those of the 27-nation bloc, which is notably concerned about corruption in both. However, the actual negotiations are unlikely to begin for a few months.

Ukraine and Moldova applied to join the EU in the days and weeks after Russia invaded in February 2022. By June 2022, EU leaders had quickly made it all official. But things have moved more slowly since then for Kyiv and membership, if it comes, might be years away.

Turkey’s accession talks have lasted almost two decades without result.

Still, starting the talks process is sending another strong signal of solidarity with Ukraine beyond the financial support the EU has provided, which officials estimate at around 100 billion euros ($107 billion). It’s also a show of support for Moldova, which has faced its own challenges with Russia.

“It is a historic event for us in historical times for Europe and it signifies the strong commitment of both sides to European peace, security, stability and prosperity," said Prime Minister Dorin Recean. “We will spare no effort to achieve our strategic goal of becoming an EU member.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, neighboring Moldova has faced several crises that have at times raised fears the country might also be in Russia’s crosshairs, from errant missiles landing on its territory, to an energy crisis sparked after Moscow cut gas supplies.

“We are very much affected by the brutal war of Russia in Ukraine, and we are helping each other in the security matters but also in the European accession and we will continue to do so,” Recean told reporters.

Candidate countries must bring their laws and standards into line with those of the EU in 35 policy areas, known as chapters, ranging from the free movement of goods through fisheries, taxation, energy and the environment to judicial rights and security.

Unanimous agreement must be given by all 27 member countries to open or close chapters, providing ample opportunity for EU nations to demand more work or to delay proceedings.

Hungary, which takes over the EU’s rotating presidency from Belgium in July, has routinely put the brakes on EU and NATO support for Ukraine.

“We are still at the beginning of the screening process. It’s very difficult to say at what stage Ukraine is in. From what I see here, as we speak, they are very far from meeting the accession criteria,” Hungarian Minister for European Affairs Janos Boka said as he arrived at the venue.

Bordering EU members Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, Ukraine would overtake France to become the largest member of the bloc if it joined, shifting its center of gravity further eastward. As a top grain producer its entry would have a huge impact on EU agriculture policy.

Together with Moldova, Ukraine stands in a long line of EU hopefuls — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey — with years-long membership aspirations and which have felt left behind by Kyiv’s rapid progress.

Ukraine wants to join by 2030, but it must carry out dozens of institutional and legal reforms first. That daunting list is led by steps to combat corruption and includes broad reforms to public administration and judiciary.

FILE- Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy poses for a picture before an EU summit at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described as a dream come true for his country's citizens more than two years into a war with Russia. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys, File)

FILE- Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy poses for a picture before an EU summit at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, in what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described as a dream come true for his country's citizens more than two years into a war with Russia. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys, File)

FILE - From left, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European Council President Charles Michel walk together to a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union later on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Moldova will also set its accession process in motion, as the EU hosts two intergovernmental conferences in Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

FILE - From left, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and European Council President Charles Michel walk together to a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union later on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Moldova will also set its accession process in motion, as the EU hosts two intergovernmental conferences in Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

FILE - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, stands next to Moldova's President Maia Sandu, in Chisinau, Moldova, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. The European Union agreed Friday, June 21, 2024, to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja, File)

FILE - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, left, stands next to Moldova's President Maia Sandu, in Chisinau, Moldova, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. The European Union agreed Friday, June 21, 2024, to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja, File)

FILE - President of Moldova Maia Sandu, right, speaks during a joint press conference with European Council President Charles Michel, left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. The European Union agreed Friday, June 21, 2024, to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

FILE - President of Moldova Maia Sandu, right, speaks during a joint press conference with European Council President Charles Michel, left, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023. The European Union agreed Friday, June 21, 2024, to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

FILE - Girls walk by a EU flag installation in a park in Chisinau, Moldova, Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union later on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Moldova will also set its accession process in motion, as the EU hosts two intergovernmental conferences in Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru, File)

FILE - Girls walk by a EU flag installation in a park in Chisinau, Moldova, Wednesday, May 31, 2023. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union later on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Moldova will also set its accession process in motion, as the EU hosts two intergovernmental conferences in Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru, File)

In this image released by Moldova's President, Moldova's President Maia Sandu signs the decree on initiating Moldova's EU accession negotiations in Chisinau, Moldova, Friday, June 21, 2024. The European Union agreed Friday to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (Moldovan Presidency via AP)

In this image released by Moldova's President, Moldova's President Maia Sandu signs the decree on initiating Moldova's EU accession negotiations in Chisinau, Moldova, Friday, June 21, 2024. The European Union agreed Friday to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (Moldovan Presidency via AP)

FILE - People holding European Union and Moldovan flags fill the Great National Assembly Square in Chisinau, Moldova, Sunday, May 21, 2023, at the end of a rally called by President Maia Sandu, aiming to show the country's support for European Union accession. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union later on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Moldova will also set its accession process in motion, as the EU hosts two intergovernmental conferences in Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja, File)

FILE - People holding European Union and Moldovan flags fill the Great National Assembly Square in Chisinau, Moldova, Sunday, May 21, 2023, at the end of a rally called by President Maia Sandu, aiming to show the country's support for European Union accession. Ukraine is set to officially launch membership talks with the European Union later on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Moldova will also set its accession process in motion, as the EU hosts two intergovernmental conferences in Luxembourg. (AP Photo/Aurel Obreja, File)

FILE - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, speaks during a joint press conference with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. The European Union agreed Friday, June 21, 2024, to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

FILE - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, speaks during a joint press conference with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. The European Union agreed Friday, June 21, 2024, to start membership negotiations with embattled Ukraine and Moldova, another step in the nations' long journey to move closer to the West and mute Russia's influence. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — This year, Ukraine’s largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Instead, the country’s most beloved local artists graced the stage this past weekend at the Atlas Festival. The stage was erected on a shopping mall parking lot, the only option that contained a shelter large enough to contain the 25,000 people that that organizers expected in the event of an air raid.

Carefree youth rubbed shoulders with hardened military commanders and famous singers who crooned songs imbued with national pride. Music was the main draw, yes, but so was shattering the illusion that the capital is invulnerable to the bloody battles playing out hundreds of miles away.

“Such kind of festivals can’t be separated from the life of the country. The country is at war. The core issues here should relate to the war,” said Vsevolod Kozhemyako, a businessman and one of the founders of the 13th “Khartia” Brigade, now a part of Ukraine’s National Guard and defending the frontline in Kharkiv.

“People who are still young and who don’t join (the fight) should understand that they cannot live in a bubble,” he said.

And yet, a bubble is precisely how it feels to be in Kyiv, as the war approaches its third year. While Ukrainian soldiers are killed and wounded everyday along the snaking 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) frontline in the east, the capital is a contrast with its bars and clubs filled with patrons.

Every so often, Kyiv comes face to face with the war. Last week, a barrage of Russian missiles destroyed a children’s hospital and a private clinic, in one of the deadliest attacks since the full-scale invasion. Residents have grappled with power cuts caused by Moscow’s targeted destruction of Ukrainian energy generation at the height of a summer heat wave.

At every corner of the music festival - the first time it was held since Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country in February 2022 - visitors were confronted with the inescapable reality that theirs is a country trapped in a bloody war of attrition. Festival organizers hoped to raise $2.2 million (2 million euros) to help soldiers purchase supplies on the front line.

In the mall’s basement parking lot, various military units, from Khartia to the 3rd Assault, offered interactive games to lure donations, and possible recruits. First-person shooter game offered visitors a chance to improve target practice by gunning down shadowy virtual infantrymen. At another corner, medics brandished severed plastic limbs and offered emergency medical training.

The festival concluded Sunday with a much-anticipated performance from Serhii Zhadan and his band Zhadan and Dogs. Zhadan, a celebrated artist dubbed the poet of the Donbas, himself recently joined Khartia.

“It’s just a small break, an opportunity to take a breath,” said Zhadan, minutes before the crowd roared before he took to the stage. “The most important things, they are happening over there, at the frontline.”

On stage, Zhadan starts with one of his most beloved songs “Malvi” or “Mallow.” The crowd sings along with him, word for word. “But what can you do with my hot blood,” they chant as one mass chorus. “Who will come at us.”

18-year old Viktoriia Khalis was excited to see his performance, she said. She had been to the Atlas music festival once before in 2021. The difference is stark, she said.

“The main thing that has changed, unfortunately, now the festival is connected with donations,” she said. But she also feels more connected to her homeland, somehow. “I feel this entire crowd is related to me. I feel unity.”

She was scared there would be another Russian air attack – a music festival with thousands of attendees would be a prime target – but said she couldn’t miss a chance to see her favorite artists.

For Nadiia Dorofeeva, one of Ukraine’s most famous singers, every concert feels different. “Before, when I entered a stage I was thinking only about if I looked good, sang well and if the people got what they came for. But now, I dream of having no air alarms, I am seeing how people cry at my concerts.”

One of Dorofeeva’s songs, “WhatsApp” is about a girl waiting for her beloved to return from war. “She washed the phone with tears/Like rainy glass,” often moves listeners to tears.

Among the attendees was Lt. Gen. Serhii Naiev, an assistant deputy chief in Ukraine’s General Staff.

“There are well known artists on stage, they are performing their concerts and there are a lot of Ukrainians around who are donating their money, much needed money for the armed forces of Ukraine,” he said.

“We understand that our partners are supporting us, but we also understand that we could do a lot by ourselves, to be stronger,” he said.

Follow AP's coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Serhii Zhadan, well-known Ukrainian writer and poet, leader of music band Zhadan and Dogs, performs at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

Serhii Zhadan, well-known Ukrainian writer and poet, leader of music band Zhadan and Dogs, performs at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People with painted faces go to the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People with painted faces go to the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People dance waiting for the start of the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People dance waiting for the start of the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

Serhii Zhadan, well-known Ukrainian writer and poet, leader of music band Zhadan and Dogs, performs at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

Serhii Zhadan, well-known Ukrainian writer and poet, leader of music band Zhadan and Dogs, performs at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

People enjoy a concert at the Atlas Festival in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 21, 2024. This year, Ukraine's largest music festival struck a different chord. Gone were the international headliners, the massive performance halls and the hundreds of thousands of visitors. (AP Photo/Anton Shtuka)

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