Ukraine moved closer to joining the European Union on Thursday following a parliamentary vote in favor of EU integration.
252 out of 345 members of parliament voted in favor of a resolution that authorizes Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to sign the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
Progress toward EU association is a milestone for a country that altered its future with EuroMaidan protests launched in November 2013 after then-President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of an association with the EU. Yanukovych's decision not to join the EU was regarded as an attempt to move economically-struggling Ukraine closer to Russia and away from the western economy.
Acting President and Verkhovna Rada Chairman Oleksandr Turchynov remarked upon the resolution's passage: "The course for European integration has been completely restored."
Prime Minister Yatsenyuk spoke about the coming EU alliance following a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House, saying "we want to be very clear that Ukraine is and will be a part of the Western world, and our Russian partners have to realize that we are ready to make a new type or to craft a new type of our relationship where Ukraine is a part of the European Union, but Ukraine is a good friend and partner of Russia."
The nature of Ukraine's relationship with Russia, Yatsenyuk clarified, will be dependent upon "whether Russia wants to have this talk and whether Russia wants to have Ukraine as a partner or as a subordinate."
The resolution also includes a request that Turchynov seek EU assistance "to immediately use all available levers of influence with respect to Russia due to its actions aimed against peace, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine."
[Interfax Ukraine News Agency]