World

Ukraine inches closer to long-anticipated reform to give more powers to the regions

  • Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gestures as he speaks to lawmakers during a parliament session in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, July 16, 2015. Ukraine’s parliament, on Thursday sent to the Constitutional Court draft amendments to the country’s Constitution concerning decentralization. A total of 288 lawmakers, 62 more than the minimum required voted in favor of the decision. The Constitution is added by a provision that "the peculiarities of local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions are defined by a separate law." (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gestures as he speaks to lawmakers during a parliament session in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, July 16, 2015. Ukraine’s parliament, on Thursday sent to the Constitutional Court draft amendments to the country’s Constitution concerning decentralization. A total of 288 lawmakers, 62 more than the minimum required voted in favor of the decision. The Constitution is added by a provision that "the peculiarities of local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions are defined by a separate law." (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, left, and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk shake hands during their meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, July 16, 2015.  (AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko, Pool)

    U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, left, and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk shake hands during their meeting in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, July 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Kravchenko, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, foreground,  listens, during a parliament session in Kiev, Ukraine Thursday, July 16, 2015. Ukraine’s parliament, on Thursday sent to the Constitutional Court draft amendments to the country’s Constitution concerning decentralization. A total of 288 lawmakers, 62 more than the minimum required voted in favor of the decision. The Constitution is added by a provision that "the peculiarities of local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions are defined by a separate law." (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

    U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, foreground, listens, during a parliament session in Kiev, Ukraine Thursday, July 16, 2015. Ukraine’s parliament, on Thursday sent to the Constitutional Court draft amendments to the country’s Constitution concerning decentralization. A total of 288 lawmakers, 62 more than the minimum required voted in favor of the decision. The Constitution is added by a provision that "the peculiarities of local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions are defined by a separate law." (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)  (The Associated Press)

Ukraine's parliament has made the first step toward devolving more powers to separatist-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine.

The conflict between Russia-backed rebels and Ukrainian government troops has killed more than 6,400 people since fighting there began in April last year.

An armistice signed in February calls for a political resolution in the region including a constitutional reform that will give all Ukrainian regions — and the east specifically — more powers.

Presenting the bill on Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko insisted that the changes he is proposing would not turn Ukraine into a federation, which the rebels originally sought. He says that along with giving more powers to local authorities throughout the country, the bill allows broader autonomy in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.