FINALLY! After 3.5 years of covering Ukraine I honestly never thought this day would come. The European Union has finally allowed visa free travel to Ukraine, giving the pro-West former Soviet Republic the freedom they’ve longed for. It’s one step closer to moving away from Russia. From The Kyiv Post:

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko presided at the May 17 signing ceremony at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, and hailed the agreement as a landmark event in Ukraine’s history.

“Today is a historic day for Ukraine, for my nation of 45 million,” Poroshenko said. “Ukraine is returning to the European family. Ukraine says a final farewell to the Soviet and Russian empire.”

Ukrainians today can travel to 87 nations without visas or by obtaining visas upon arrival. The agreement will add another 34 European countries to the list, including four non-EU countries — Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Only the formalities remain: The agreement will be published in the Journal of the European Union on May 21 and comes into force 20 days after publication — Sunday, June 11.

The agreement allows Ukrainians to stay 90 days within a 180-day period. Ukrainians need biometric passports to enjoy the benefits, something that at least 3.5 million citizens have obtained.

Even those who don’t plan to visit Europe will still benefit, said Iryna Sushko, head of NGO Europe Without Barriers, which promotes freedom of movement, migration rights and border management.

“For the majority of people, the important consequence of the visa-free regime is modernization, reform of the security system, migration, the fight against corruption and discrimination, and many other issues related to human rights,” Sushko said.

My heart has exploded with joy and happiness for Ukraine.