Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree expanding a fast track to Russian citizenship to all citizens of Ukraine, a document published on the government’s website showed.
Up until recently, only citizens of the Russian-occupied districts of Kherson and Zaporizhia, as well as the self-declared breakaway republics of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) in eastern Ukraine, were qualified for the streamlined process.
Between 2019 – when the procedure was first introduced for the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk – and this year, more than 720,000 residents of the rebel-held areas in the two regions – about 18 percent of the population – have received Russian passports.
Residents of the Zaporizhia and Kherson areas were also given the option to use the fast-track system in late May of this year, three months after Russia invaded Ukraine. The first Russian passports were apparently distributed there a month ago.
The decree on Monday ordered that “all citizens of Ukraine” be given “the right to apply for admission to the citizenship of the Russian Federation in a simplified manner”.
Putin signed a decree in May making it easier for those living in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine’s Kherson and Zaporizhia to obtain Russian citizenship and passports.
The proclamation represents a further step in the “Russification” of the two areas, where Moscow’s conflict in Ukraine has made it possible for it to build a permanent land bridge connecting Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
At the time, Kyiv said the plan was a violation of international law and accused the Kremlin of “criminal” behaviour.
“The illegal issuing of passports … is a flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as norms and principles of international humanitarian law,” the Ukrainian foreign ministry said in a statement then.
It is not necessary for applicants to have lived in Russia, to demonstrate that they have enough money, or to pass a Russian language test.