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Ukraine's parliament ratified an agreement Tuesday to strengthen its ties with the European Union.
The agreement will "deepen economic and political ties" between Ukraine and the EU, The Associated Press reports, and it includes legislation that will also grant autonomy to east Ukraine in an effort to end the war there between pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government. The parliament also granted amnesty for many involved in the fighting.
The ratification vote comes a year after the issue of Ukraine's ties to Europe first sparked a crisis in the country, when protests against the tabling of an EU agreement pushed then-President Viktor Yanukovych from power. Seizing on the political chaos in Ukraine, Russia then annexed the Crimean peninsula, leading to a war in east Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian government. Russia has long been opposed to Ukraine making a deal with the EU, because it would align the former Soviet state away from Moscow and lead to less demand for Russian goods, AP reports.
While the autonomy granted by the new agreement won't give the separatists full independence, rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko told Russia's RIA Novosti news agency that he would study the legislation. Ukraine entered a cease-fire with pro-Russian separatists on Sept. 5, but it has been violated on numerous occasions. --Meghan DeMaria