Ukraine's parliament on Tuesday voted to drop the country's non-aligned status and work towards NATO membership, with 303 MP voted in favor.
A note explaining the changes in Ukraine's law on domestic and foreign policy said that the "non-bloc" status codified under then-President Viktor Yanukovych in 2010 had left the country vulnerable to "external aggression and pressure."
Addressing deputies in Kiev before the vote, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said scrapping Ukraine's neutral status underscored its determination to pivot towards Europe and the West.
"This will lead to integration in the European and the Euro-Atlantic space," he said.
Any accession to the Western military alliance is likely to take years, but a NATO spokesman in Brussels said: "Our door is open and
Ukraine will become a member of NATO if it so requests and fulfils the standards and adheres to the necessary principles."