Ukraine Just Signed the Trade Deal That Was at the Heart of Its Revolutionary Uproar

When former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned a EU trade deal, he sparked protests. His successor just signed it.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko talks to the media after this morning's EU meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Thierry Tronnel/Corbis

Last year, Viktor Yanukovych, who was then president of Ukraine, backed out of a proposed trade deal with the European Union, choosing instead to align more closely with Russia. That November, Ukrainians took to the streets to protest against him. In February, those protests turned deadly. In the following months, a new president came to power, Russia annexed the region of Crimea and both Kiev and the country's eastern provinces saw violent clashes.

Today, Ukraine's new president, Petro Poroshenko, finished what the November protestors had started. This morning, says the Associated Press, Poroshenko signed the European Union trade deal. The New York Times:

The signing of the accord by Mr. Poroshenko represented a hugely symbolic political victory, and was greeted in Kiev as a triumph for the thousands of demonstrators who camped out for months in Independence Square, ultimately driving Mr. Yanukovych to flee to Russia. 

The inking of the EU trade deal does not mean an end to Ukraine's troubles. During the months-long protests, three eastern provinces, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv, deemed themselves independent republics, and fighting has swept the region ever since. Poroshenko and the Ukrainian security council have tried to put a ceasefire on the fighting in the east, says the Guardian, though the move has done little to stem the bloodshed.

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