Russian President Vladimir Putin extended Russian citizenship to all Ukrainians on Monday. The decree will fast track the applications of Ukrainians seeking out Russian citizenship.
Previously, only Ukrainians from the Russian-speaking breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, called the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), in Eastern Ukraine, along with the Russian-occupied areas of Kherson and Zaporizhia, were given fast track applications for Russian citizenship.
These are the precise areas which Russia stated it wanted to “free” from Ukrainian control when it invaded the country earlier this year.
This path to Russian citizenship was first offered to Ukrainians in the DPR and LPR in 2019, and over 700,000 people in those regions have since acquired Russian passports.
It was then extended to residents of Kherson and Zaporizhia in May of this year after Russia invaded Ukraine, and the first Russian passports were given out this month in the areas.
“The illegal issuing of passports…is a flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as…international humanitarian law,” the Ukrainian Ministry stated when Russia began offering citizenship in Kherson and Zaporizhia.
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Now, after Putin signed a decree extending the citizenship process for Ukrainians, people from all across the country can gain Russian citizenship through the simplified procedure.
Ukrainians who wish to acquire Russian citizenship will not be required to pass a Russian language test nor have spent any time in the country to complete the process.
This move has been seen as an attempt to prove Putin’s claims that the Ukrainian and Russian people are the same and that Ukraine is part of Russia, one of the main justifications Putin used to invade Ukraine in the first place.
However, Ukrainians have pushed back on this claim, citing their distinctive language, culture, traditions, and history, and not least of all the sovereignty of their nation.
On Monday, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry claimed that the move from Russia violated Ukrainian sovereignty.
“The mentioned decree is another encroachment on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, incompatible with the norms and principles of international law,” a statement from the Foreign Ministry reads.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, stressed that “Ukrainians do not need Putin’s citizenship and attempts to impose it by force are doomed to failure.”
Putin declared victory in the region of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine last week. This happened a day after Ukrainian forces withdrew from their last remaining bulwark of resistance in the province.
In a televised meeting, Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s Defense Minister, reported to Putin that Russian forces had taken control of Luhansk.
Shoigu told Putin that the operation was completed on Sunday after Russian troops overran the city of Lysychansk, the last stronghold of Ukrainian forces in Luhansk.