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EU, Ukraine sign pact to pave way to EU membership

Ukraine has signed a free-trade and political cooperation agreement with the European Union, paving the way for its EU membership in the future.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the Association Agreements jointly with the prime ministers of 2 other former Soviet republics -- Moldova and Georgia -- in Brussels on Friday.

The signing ceremony was held on the sidelines of an EU summit.

President Poroshenko said this is a historic day for Ukraine. He emphasized that the agreement covers all parts of Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula annexed by Russia in March of this year.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said the EU will strengthen its cooperation with the 3 countries for their economic development, pledging further aid to them.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia will respect their decision. But he threatened that Russia would take protective steps if their agreements with the EU negatively affect the Russian market.

Poroshenko's predecessor, Viktor Yanukovych, did not sign the treaty under Russia's pressure last November. This sparked street protests in Ukraine and led to his downfall and Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Jun. 27, 2014 - Updated 10:58 UTC