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KIEV, Ukraine - Ukraine's parliament on Tuesday ratified a landmark agreement on political association and trade with the European Union, the rejection of which last November by then President Viktor Yanukovich led to his downfall. The agreement won unanimous support from the 355 deputies who took part in the vote.
Referring to the deaths of anti-government protesters who came out against Yanukovich's rejection of the pact with the EU and of soldiers killed in fighting separatists since, President Petro Poroshenko said: "No nation has ever paid such a high price to become Europeans." Yanukovich's retreat from an avowed course of European integration in favor a closer ties with Ukraine's ex-Soviet master, Russia, triggered months of street protests in which about 100 people were shot dead in the capital Kiev. After he fled to Russia in February, Moscow denounced the pro-Western "coup" against him and went on to annex Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and subsequently backed armed pro-Russian separatists in their drive for autonomy from Kiev. The chain of events has provoked the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War and led to a conflict in eastern Ukraine in which more than 3,000 have been killed.