Ukraine's parliament has voted to abandon the country's nonaligned status, a move that could be a step toward seeking membership in NATO.

Although Ukraine had pursued NATO membership several years ago, it declared itself a non-bloc country after Russia-friendly Viktor Yanukovych became president in 2010. Yanukovych fled the country in February after months of street protests that exploded into violence, and was replaced by Western-leaning Petro Poroshenko in May.

Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and its support for a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine appear partly rooted in fears that the Western military alliance could expand its presence on the Russian border by allowing Ukraine to join.

Tuesday's vote, which was approved 303-9, was initiated by Poroshenko.