EU President promises Ukraine a speedy start to EU membership.

If Ukraine is judged to be ready, it could be named a candidate country before talks about joining the EU start.

Ms von der Leyen said Ukraine was being given special attention, since the procedure generally takes “years” but in this case took “weeks”.

She remarked during a news conference with Mr Zelensky: “Dear Volodymyr, my message today is very clear. Ukraine belongs to the European family. We’ve heard your request loud and clear.

“And today we’re here to give you a first positive answer.

“In this envelope, there is an important step towards EU membership. The questionnaire that is in here, is the basis for our discussion in the coming weeks. It is where your path towards Europe and the European Union begins.”

She added: “We stand ready 24 hours, 7 days a week, to support you in filling out this questionnaire. We know a lot about each other because we have been working intensively over the last few years.

“So it will not be, as usual, a matter of years, but weeks if we work closely together.”

The Ukrainian leader stated: “Thank you so much. We’ll be ready with answers in one week.” 

She also said Ukraine’s EU membership was a formality and that Russia’s economy would collapse.

She continued: “Russia will descend into economic, financial and technological decay, while Ukraine is marching towards the European future.”

Since the Russian incursion started in February, Mr Zelensky has consistently proclaimed his desire to join the bloc. MrZelensky indicated on social media two months ago that Ukrainian membership was “feasible”.

Zelensky said: “Today I signed the application for Ukraine’s membership in the European Union. I’m sure it’s feasible.”

He also urged for “immediate” EU admission in a video immediately after the invasion.

He said: “We appeal to the European Union for Ukraine’s immediate accession under a new special procedure.

“We are grateful to our partners for supporting us, but our goal is to stand alongside all Europeans, and most importantly, stand on their level.

“I am confident that this is fair. I am confident that we deserve this. I am confident that all this is possible.”

In February, a European Commission official told Business Insider that all current EU members have to agree.

“Applications are sent to the council, and the decision must be taken by unanimity by EU member states.”