Putin approves citizenship for foreigners in Russian army
President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree granting the right to obtain Russian passports to foreigners who sign up for service in the country’s Armed Forces or other military units during the Ukraine conflict, the Kremlin reported on its website on Thursday.
Family members of such foreigners will also have the right to obtain Russian citizenship, according to the decree.
In addition, simplified naturalization rules will apply to foreigners dismissed from military service during the fighting for health reasons, upon reaching the age limit, or the expiration of their contract.
Applications to secure Russian ID for the foreign nationals are to be considered within a month after the relevant papers are submitted to the Interior Ministry. The term can be extended to up to three months in case some data needs additional verification, the document reads.
The move can help to solve the problem of extraditing foreigners who took part in the fighting for Russia to other countries, according to Aleksandr Khinshtein, the head of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy.
“Now the problem with the extradition of veterans of the military operation to other countries, where they are to be punished as ‘mercenaries’, will be resolved. Russia doesn’t extradite its citizens!” he wrote on Telegram.
Foreigners have been allowed to sign contracts with the Russian military since November 2022. However, a simplified path towards naturalization previously only applied to those who committed to at least one year of service.
Last month, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that the number of “foreign volunteers” joining the country’s military units had increased sevenfold over the past year. He didn’t reveal the exact number.
Also on Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry published data on foreign mercenaries fighting on the Ukrainian side. According to its estimates, over 13,500 soldiers of fortune have arrived in the country since the outbreak of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev in February 2022.
A total of 5,900 mercenaries have been killed, while over 5,600 have fled the battlefield. The number of foreigners in the ranks of the Ukrainian military currently stands at over 1,900, according to the ministry.