World

Ukraine abandons nonaligned status, possibly step toward seeking NATO membership

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and his Belarus' counterpart Alexander Lukashenko take part in the Eurasian Economic Union summit in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. Russia and four other ex-Soviet nations on Tuesday completed the creation of a new economic alliance intended to bolster their integration, but the ambitious grouping immediately showed signs of fracture as Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko sharply criticized Russia for restricting bilateral trade. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and his Belarus' counterpart Alexander Lukashenko take part in the Eurasian Economic Union summit in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. Russia and four other ex-Soviet nations on Tuesday completed the creation of a new economic alliance intended to bolster their integration, but the ambitious grouping immediately showed signs of fracture as Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko sharply criticized Russia for restricting bilateral trade. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)  (The Associated Press)

  • El presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin (derecha), y su colega bielorruso Alexander Lukashenko estrechan las manos en el Kremlin, el martes 23 de diciembre de 2014 en Moscú. (Foto AP/ Maxim Shipenkov, Pool)

    El presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin (derecha), y su colega bielorruso Alexander Lukashenko estrechan las manos en el Kremlin, el martes 23 de diciembre de 2014 en Moscú. (Foto AP/ Maxim Shipenkov, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • From left: Armenian President Serge Sarkisian, Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin and  Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev arrive for the Eurasian Economic Union summit in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. Putin, Lukashenko and leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia finalized the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union, a new alliance intended to boost their economic integration. (AP Photo/ Maxim Shipenkov, Pool)

    From left: Armenian President Serge Sarkisian, Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev arrive for the Eurasian Economic Union summit in Moscow's Kremlin, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. Putin, Lukashenko and leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia finalized the creation of the Eurasian Economic Union, a new alliance intended to boost their economic integration. (AP Photo/ Maxim Shipenkov, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

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.