Ukraine took a historic step toward NATO on Tuesday in a parliamentary vote that stoked Russia's anger ahead of talks on ending the ex-Soviet state's separatist war.
Lawmakers in the government-controlled chamber overwhelmingly adopted a bill dropping Ukraine's non-aligned status -- a classification given to states such as Switzerland that refuse to join military alliances and thus play no part in wars.
President Petro Poroshenko had vowed to put Ukraine under Western military protection after winning an election called in the wake of the February ouster in Kiev of a Moscow-backed president.
"Ukraine's fight for its independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty has turned into a decisive factor in our relations with the world," Poroshenko told foreign ambassadors in Kiev on Monday night.
"European and Euro-Atlantic integrations -- that is Ukraine's XX course," Poroshenko tweeted moments after the 303-8 vote.
Ukraine assumed neutrality under strong Russian pressure in 2010. It had sought NATO membership in the early post-Soviet era but -- its once-mighty army in ruins and riven by corruption -- was never viewed as a serious candidate.
Last winter's revolution in Kiev upset Russian President Vladimir Putin's plans to enlist Ukraine in a new bloc he was forging in order to counterbalance NATO and the European Union.
And Moscow had set Kiev's exclusion from all military blocs as a condition for any deal on ending the pro-Russian uprising that has killed 4,700 in the eastern Ukrainian rustbelt in the past eight months.
Putin's view of NATO as modern Russia's biggest threat has only been reinforced by this year's dramatic spike in East-West tensions over Ukraine.