Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday to speed up the granting of Russian citizenship to Ukrainians, in another bid to increase Moscow’s influence in war-torn Ukraine.
Until now, fast-track Russian citizenship was granted only to residents of the eastern, Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as those in the southern regions of Zaporizhia and Kherson, large parts of which are controlled by Russia.
Today’s decree also applies to stateless residents in Ukraine.
Since 2019, when the procedure was first implemented for residents of Donetsk and Luhansk, more than 720,000 residents of both regions, or about 18 percent of their population, have received Russian passports.
In May, three months after the attack on Ukraine, the accelerated procedure also began to apply to the residents of Zaporizhia and Kherson. The first passports for them began to be distributed last month.
Luhansk and Donetsk together form the eastern Donbass region, which is the industrial heart of Ukraine. Separatist forces in the area have been at war with Ukrainian forces since 2014. Earlier this month, Russia captured the city of Lysychansk, the main center of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk./VOA
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