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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Friday signed a broad agreement of cooperation with the European Union, the same deal whose reversal set off a crisis in the nation.

His predecessor’s decision to shun the EU Association Agreement last year and work with Russia instead unleashed deadly strife that led to that President’s ouster, the loss of Crimea and a pro-Russia separatist rebellion.

Sealing the deal may be the second-most important moment in Ukraine’s history, Poroshenko said, after its independence from Russia.

He said the signing “shows how dramatically things can change in a short time, if the will of the people is strong enough.”

And he paid tribute, on what he described as a “great day” in the nation’s history, to Ukrainians who lost their lives when protests over closer ties with Europe turned bloody.

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