Ukraine parliament ratifies landmark EU pact
KYIV - Agence France-Presse
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko shows a signed landmark association agreement with the European Union during a session of the parliament in Kiev, September 16, 2014. REUTERS PhotoThe Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday ratified a landmark EU pact that decisively steers the former Soviet state towards the West and away from Russian influence.
President Petro Poroshenko told lawmakers the ratification of the association agreement -- in a simultaneous vote with the European parliament in Strasbourg -- was a "first step" towards membership of the European Union.
"Tell me, who will now dare to shut Ukraine's doors to Europe? Who will be against our future membership in the EU, towards which today we are taking our first but very decisive step."
A total of 355 lawmakers voted in favour of the ratification of the pact -- which had been rejected by former pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych in November, setting off months of turmoil that eventually led to his ouster and triggered Russia's seizure of Crimea and a separatist uprising in the east.
However, Ukraine and the EU had agreed last week to delay until 2016 the implementation of a free trade deal that forms part of the pact, in what was seen as a concession to Russia.