Citizens of Ukraine could more easily receive Russian citizenship in the future. Critics call this a further escalation in the conflict between the two countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is considering facilitating the issue of Russian passports to citizens from across Ukraine. “We are considering granting citizenship to all citizens in a simplified way, not just those of the Luhansk and Donetsk Republics,” Putin said at the Silk Road Conference in Beijing.
It was not until Wednesday that Putin had signed a decree that would make it easier for citizens of eastern Ukraine to become Russian nationals. Anyone who receives a Russian passport should therefore also be entitled to pension and social assistance. Now the regulation could be extended to the whole country.
Kiev responded to the announcement with protest. The permanent representative of the Ukrainian government at the Council of Europe, Dmytro Kuleba, tweeted that Russia is planning a “further escalation”. The designated Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Selenskyj, had announced new impulses for the peace process in the eastern part of the country just after his election victory a week ago. He focused on talks in the so-called Normandie format, in which not only Ukraine and Russia but also Germany and France are involved. Meanwhile, Putin said he was open to dialogue. All participants were “sorry for the conflict”.
For years, Ukrainian government troops have been fighting against Russia-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country, with around 13,000 dead.