Russia is de facto annexing Donbas into Russia by offering Russian citizenship to those living in the LDR and DPR.
Once again, Russia is circumventing or even breaking international law, trying to illegally annex neighboring territory from another country.
This might conceivably increase the Russian population by 3.2 million people, a 2.2% increase in the Russian population from 144.5 million.
Obviously, this is illegal, unethical, and immoral and should be universally opposed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree allowing individuals living in the Russian-occupied parts of eastern Ukraine to gain Russian citizenship through a simplified procedure.
The document published on the Kremlin’s website on April 24 qualifies “persons constantly living within the territories of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts of Ukraine” to be eligible to apply for Russian passports without complying with a number of criteria generally envisaged by the country’s legislation. These criteria include residing in Russia for at least five years under residence permits, having a legal source of subsistence, renouncing foreign citizenship, and proficiency in the Russian language.
Instead of that, Donbas residents wishing to gain Russian citizenship must approach the local offices of Russia’s Interior Ministry and file an application and copies of identification documents issued by so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics, two unrecognized, Russian-controlled puppet statelets in the occupied Donbas.
Since February 2018, Russia has officially recognized documents issued by its occupation authorities in eastern Ukraine, although it does not recognize the “republics” diplomatically. Now, citizenship requests submitted by residents of the occupied Donbas must be processed in a shortened period of just three month, according to the decree.
The new regulation came into effect immediately following its official publication.
Vladislav Surkov, a Russian presidential aide who reportedly curates the occupied Donbas in the Kremlin, called this move “the duty of the Russian Federation before those speaking and thinking in Russian.”
Those living in occupied Donbas “now find themselves in a difficult situation because of the repressive actions of the Kyivan regime,” the official told the Russian TASS new agency.
“Ukraine refuses to recognize them as its citizens by invoking a trade blockade, not admitting them to voting, and using military force against them.”
Russia’s decision to simplify the citizenship procedure immediately provoked a strong reaction from Ukrainian diplomats.
Shortly after the decree’s publication, the Ukrainian envoy to the United Nations, Volodymyr Yelchenko, announced on Twitter that, by order of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, he had approached the UN Security Council regarding the matter.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin wrote on Twitter that the move was “a continuation of aggression and meddling in our domestic affairs” and “the new ‘passport’ stage of occupation of Donbas.”
On April 17, the Russian newspaper Kommersant first reported the Kremlin’s intention to start issuing Russian passports to residents of the occupied Donbas after the presidential elections in Ukraine.
Citing its sources in the Russian government, the newspaper also reported that all necessary infrastructure for accepting citizenship application had already been deployed in Russian regions bordering Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, particularly in the cities of Shakhty and Novoshakhtinsk of Russia’s neighboring Rostov Oblast.
According to the Ukrainian-based Center for Studies of Russia and The Occupied Territories, up to 3.2 million Ukrainian citizens still live in Russian-occupied areas of Donbas.