Ukraine sought to draw a line under its confrontation with Moscow by ratifying a landmark trade-and-political deal with the European Union and approving limited autonomy for territories now controlled by Russia-backed separatists.
But with full implementation of the EU deal postponed under Russian pressure, and the rebels insisting on independence, the developments illustrated Kiev’s weakened position—almost a year after Moscow began flexing its muscle to keep the ex-Soviet republic in its orbit.
Many lawmakers in Kiev broke into the national anthem and cried “Glory to Ukraine” after the EU deal passed with 355 votes in the 450-seat legislature. President Petro Poroshenko hailed it as a first step toward eventual membership in the bloc.
“No country has paid such a high price for its European choice,” he said before the vote. “After that who can close the door to Ukraine?”
But despite patriotic fervor and the symbolism of a video link with the European Parliament, which also approved the deal, the victory for Kiev’s new, pro-Western government has been hollowed out by events of the past year.
Russia has occupied and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Six months of heavy fighting in the country’s east have left at least 3,000 dead and battered Ukraine’s economy.
Rivals of Mr. Poroshenko’s party assailed the autonomy law as caving to Moscow by effectively ceding control to the rebels. Separatist leaders said they would stick to their demands for full independence but stopped short of denouncing the law outright, meaning the conflict could fester for years.
The Kremlin didn’t comment on the Ukrainian parliament’s actions Tuesday.