Ukraine Condemns Russian Decree Allowing Ukrainians Expedited Citizenship

Ukraine has condemned a new decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin that allows Ukrainians in all parts of the country to obtain Russian citizenship.

The decree "is another encroachment on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, incompatible with the norms and principles of international law," the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on July 11.

It said granting passports to Ukrainian citizens was "legally void and will have no legal consequences for Ukraine."

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the passport decree was an example of Putin's "predatory appetites" and called on Ukraine's partners to increase military assistance and introduce new economic sanctions against Russia.

The decree says all Ukrainian citizens and persons without citizenship residing in Ukraine can get Russian passports through the same simplified procedure that Moscow introduced in 2019 for residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, parts of which have been controlled by Kremlin-backed separatists since 2014.

Since May 25, it has also applied to residents of two Ukrainian regions, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya, parts of which have been occupied during Moscow's unprovoked invasion launched in February. It now applies throughout Ukraine.

The Foreign Ministry statement said Russia was using the simplified procedure for issuing passports "to tighten the noose around the necks of residents of the temporarily occupied territories of our state, forcing them to participate in the criminal activities of the occupying administrations and the Russian army of aggression."

The decree compounds concerns about the aims of Russia's war against Ukraine, according to a Kyiv-based analyst.

The expansion "means [that Russia's] plans for occupation have no geographical limits," Maria Zolkina, head of regional security and conflict studies at the Kyiv-based Democratic Initiatives Foundation think tank, wrote on Twitter.

Putin and other Russian officials have insisted that the invasion's goal was not to occupy Ukraine. However, Moscow and Russian-imposed authorities in occupied Ukrainian territories now say the regions could become part of Russia.

Russian-installed authorities in occupied territories of Ukraine's Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions said earlier that they had set up passport-issuance centers for Ukrainian citizens who chose to obtain Russian passports.

In the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, known collectively as the Donbas, separatist leaders said earlier that hundreds of thousands of local residents had obtained Russian citizenship since 2019.