The parliament has abolished the non-aligned status of Ukraine-a major step toward joining NATO, local media reported. The legislation was submitted by President Petro Poroshenko, who has promised to hold a referendum on NATO membership once the country fulfills conditions set by the Western military alliance. 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.
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. Putin's view of NATO as modern Russia's biggest threat has been reinforced by this year's dramatic spike in East-West tensions over Ukraine.
"In essence, an application for NATO membership will turn Ukraine into a potential military opponent for Russia," Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned in a Facebook post.
He said that Ukraine's rejection of neutrality and a new Russian sanctions law that US President Barack Obama signed "will both have very negative consequences." "And our country will have to respond to them," Medvedev added.
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