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11 Jul, 2022 20:17

Ukraine responds to Russia’s citizenship initiative

The West should react to Moscow’s offer of fast-track citizenship to Ukrainians by sending more weapons to Ukraine, Kiev insists
Ukraine responds to Russia’s citizenship initiative

Granting all Ukrainians a right to apply for Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure is nothing short of an “encroachment on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine” on Moscow’s part, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry said it “strongly condemns” the move on the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the relevant decree. Ukrainian diplomats also declared Moscow’s decision “incompatible with the norms and principles of international law.”

According to the ministry’s statement, the offer to Ukrainians of a fast-track to Russian citizenship suggests the Kremlin supposedly is still seeking to “seize Ukrainian lands, destroy the Ukrainian state” and “forcibly assimilate” the Ukrainian nation.

Kiev also warned that it would consider the granting of Russian citizenships to Ukrainians under this procedure “null and void,” adding that it would have “no legal consequences” for Ukraine. It also accused Moscow of attempts at using the procedure to “force” Ukrainians living in the territories controlled by Russian troops to “participate in the criminal activities of the occupation administrations.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba also used the occasion to request more weapons from the West. “It is now critically important to provide more assistance to our nation,” he said in a statement, as he called on Ukraine’s “partners” to “urgently provide Ukraine with more heavy weapons and introduce new economic sanctions against Russia.”

The minister also branded the Russian president’s decree “worthless,” adding that it only shows “Putin’s aggressive appetites.”

The Russian president’s decree, signed and published on Monday, modifies the procedures earlier reserved for the citizens of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as well as the residents of the two southern Ukrainian regions that have been under the control of the Russian forces almost since the start of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev.

Now, all Ukrainians may file a citizenship request with the Russian authorities without the previous requirements of the need to have lived in Russia for five years, to have a source of income or to pass a Russian-language test. People who lived on the territories controlled by the two Donbass republics got such a right in 2019. As of February, 950,000 people there had reportedly filed applications and 770,000 of them have become Russian citizens.

Back in 2019, when this simplified procedure was first introduced, Putin said it was not aimed at “creating problems” for Ukraine but to help protect the basic rights of the people of Donbass, who were “completely deprived” of them for a long time. In May, another decree added the residents of Zaporozhye and Kherson regions in the south of Ukraine to those eligible for the citizenship scheme.