News World Ukraine drops non-aligned status

Ukraine drops non-aligned status

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The Ukrainian parliament has voted by overwhelming majority to drop the country’s non-aligned status, a major step toward joining NATO.

The legislation was submitted by President Petro Poroshenko, who has promised to hold a referendum on NATO membership once the country fulfils conditions set by the Western military alliance.

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The vote in favour of ending Ukraine’s official neutrality, which had been adopted in 2010, had been expected.

The step was agreed to by Ukraine’s new governing four-party coalition, which took office earlier this month.

The coalition agreement includes aims for NATO membership, but Poroshenko has said it could take at least six years to meet demands set by NATO and the European Union.

More than 4000 people have been killed in the fighting between pro-Russian rebels and government forces in eastern Ukraine.

The crisis has set off alarm bells in Eastern European countries like Poland and the Baltic states, which also host big Russian minorities.

Moscow has condemned the eastern expansion of NATO for not taking into account Russian interests, and has warned against a Western monopoly on security in Ukraine and the broader region.

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