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‘Not as good as Poles or Romanians?’ Putin defends offer of Russian passports to E. Ukrainians

‘Not as good as Poles or Romanians?’ Putin defends offer of Russian passports to E. Ukrainians
There’s nothing sensational about Russia offering fast-track citizenship to people in eastern Ukraine, as other states have engaged their fellow countrymen for quite some time in similar ways, Vladimir Putin said.

The strong criticism of Russia’s humanitarian initiative to fast-track citizenship is “strange,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters on the heels of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Poland has been issuing the ‘Karta Polaka’ (Polish Card) for ethnic Poles in Ukraine, while Hungary and Romania issue passports under similar programs, Putin said.

This is also the case for native Ukrainians who “feel connected to Russia” for various reasons, such as family bonds or intermarriage. “Moreover, if other neighbors of Ukraine has been doing this for many years, why can’t Russia do the same?” the president asked.

I have a question in this regard – are Russians living in Ukraine not as good as Romanians, Poles, and Hungarians?

Earlier this week, a presidential decree was signed to ease the process of obtaining Russian citizenship for people in breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. They can apply for a Russian passport under a fast-track program and obtain it within three months.

Unsurprisingly, the move drew criticism from Kiev, where President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky is about to assume office. However, Putin said the proposal was not intended to provoke anyone. “The issue of passports is a humanitarian one.”

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Ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians find themselves in a precarious situation, as they have been deprived “of many things [including] fundamental human rights.” Those coming from eastern Ukraine often have trouble in everyday life, be it enrolling at a university or simply booking a flight, Putin explained.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian government seems to show little interest in implementing the landmark Minsk peace agreement, as they have essentially cut off the region from the rest of the country.

What about the people living in these territories? Will they be left behind living in complete isolation?

Nevertheless, Moscow is ready to restore ties with Kiev, “in full but not unilaterally.”

Zelensky, who partly campaigned on the Ukrainian people’s exhaustion with the war, signaled that he could be more flexible in reaching compromise on the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk regions, but it remains to be seen if he will live up to his promise, Putin said.

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