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Ukrainian Parliament Passes Constitutional Amendment To Reflect EU, NATO Aspirations

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gives a speech before the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv on February 7.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gives a speech before the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv on February 7.

KYIV -- The Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has approved in its final reading a constitutional amendment that reflects the country's strategic goal of becoming a member of NATO and the European Union.

During a February 7 session, the amendment passed 334-17.

Addressing the lawmakers ahead of the vote, President Petro Poroshenko said February 7 was a "historic day for Ukraine" and called the measure "another important step" toward eventual membership in the Euro-Atlantic structures.

The bill was approved in its first reading on November 22 and it will come into force after it is made public.

Poroshenko said Russia was able to launch an attack against Ukraine because certain Ukrainian politicians had been promoting neutrality "talking about the necessity for Ukraine to...stay away from all alliances."

Poroshenko, who is up for reelection this year, came to power after Moscow-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych was pushed out by large protests and fled to Russia.

The protests began in November 2013 after Yanukovych made a last-minute decision to scrap a key Association Agreement with the EU under pressure from the Kremlin.

One month after Yanukovych fled to Russia in February 2014, Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Shortly thereafter, Moscow began supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine in a conflict in which more than 10,300 people were killed since April 2014.

The EU Association Agreement was signed in 2014 by Poroshenko and came into force in 2017.

Joining the EU or NATO requires support from all existing members, and many EU and NATO countries are wary of taking in Ukraine or believe it will not be ready to join soon.

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