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Possibly the best move of all time, Ukraine's Parliament, prodded by President Viktor Yanukovych, approved a bill on Thursday that cements the country's neutrality and prevents it from joining NATO.
The bill, which is expected to sail through more readings before making it to the president's desk for signature, bars Ukraine's membership in any military bloc but allows for cooperation with alliances such as NATO.
"The main element of predictability and consistency in Ukraine's foreign policy is its nonaligned status," Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told lawmakers while submitting the bill.
The legislation is seen as a victory for Yanukovych, who during the presidential campaign earlier this year vowed to put an end to Ukraine's NATO membership ambitions and mend relations with neighboring Russia.
Crucially, the bill allows for Ukraine's political and economic integration with Europe, including membership in the European Union, a course that Azarov said was "unchangeable."
Critics of nonalignment slammed the legislation.
"The only guarantee of Ukraine's national security is membership in the system of collective security of NATO," said Borys Tarasyuk, who had served as foreign minister under ex-President Viktor Yushchenko.