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KIEV, December 23. /TASS/. Ukraine’s parliament voted on Tuesday to renounce the country’s non-aligned status in a move that paves the way for Kiev’s NATO membership bid.
The law, proposed by President Petro Poroshenko, was backed by 303 lawmakers, 77 more than the minimum required. The lawmakers considered a total of four similar bills.
All of these bills envisage “the abandonment of the non-bloc status and the return towards NATO rapprochement what will significantly increase Ukraine’s positions in defense.”
Last week, Poroshenko said the refusal to join NATO in 2010 was the “biggest mistake of the former Ukrainian leadership.” He also said the decision on the issue should be taken during an all-Ukrainian referendum.
In late November, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the membership may be sought by countries that fulfil the criteria for becoming NATO allies, and that is also valid for Ukraine.
In comments to the law, Russian permanent representative to the OSCE Andrey Kelin said on Tuesday Ukraine does not correspond to criteria for joining NATO either in economic or in political terms.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in late November that Kiev’s abandoning of the current non-bloc status meant a course towards solving the conflict in south-eastern Ukraine by force and struggle against Russia.
Kiev started building ties with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ukraine was one of the first former Soviet states which joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program in 1994.
Former President Leonid Kuchma officially announced Ukraine’s plans to join the alliance. During the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko, Ukraine launched dialogue on the possible membership. When Viktor Yanukovych came to power, Ukraine proclaimed a non-bloc status.