On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill that completes Russia's annexation of Crimea. The move came just hours after Ukraine agreed to a political association and trade deal with the European Union.
The agreement between Ukraine and the European Union is the same deal that former Ukrainian President Vikto Yanukovych refused to sign in November, setting off months of protests that led to a new government in Kiev and the on-going crisis in Crimea.
As well as the closer political ties, the European Commission has agreed to extend nearly 500 million euros worth of trade benefits to Ukraine, removing customs duties on a wide range of agricultural goods, textiles and other imports.
Once Ukraine has held presidential elections on May 25 and a new administration is in place, the EU plans to move ahead with signing a free-trade agreement with Ukraine, giving the country unfettered access to the EU's market of 500 million consumers.
Ukraine's acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk praised the agreement, calling it "historic."
"We want to be a part of the big European family and this is the first tremendous step in order to achieve for Ukraine its ultimate goal, as a full-fledged member," he said.
Van Rompuy, the European Council president, said the agreement will bring Ukraine closer to Europe and the "European way of life."
[Image via AP]