Putin fast-tracks Russian citizenship to all Ukrainians to bolster Moscow’s influence
On Monday, as Russian missiles struck another key Ukrainian city, Russian President Vladimir Putin expanded a fast-track process for all Ukrainians to obtain Russian citizenship. This move by Putin is yet another attempt to strengthen the influence of Moscow in war torn neighbour Ukraine.
Who all can apply now for Russian citizenship?
Up until now, only the residents of Ukraine’s separatist regions of eastern Donetsk and Luhansk, and also residents of the southern Zaporizhzhia and the Kherson regions – whose large parts are now under Russian control – could apply for the simplified passport procedure for Russia.
In 2019 the procedure was first introduced for the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk. From then until now this year, more than 720,000 people in the rebel-held areas in the two regions, which makes about 18 per cent of the population, have received Russian passports. Three months after Russia’s invasion on Ukraine, in late May this process was also opened for residents of the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions.
But the fast-track process for Russian citizenship is now expanded to include all Ukrainians.
A sign of “predatory appetite”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Klueba has said that the move by Putin of signing of a passport decree, that now also applies to stateless residents in Ukraine, is an example of his “predatory appetites.”
“Russia is using the simplified procedure for issuing passports to tighten the noose around the necks of residents of the temporarily occupied territories of our state, forcing them to participate in the criminal activities of the occupying administrations and the Russian army of aggression,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry added in a statement.
Putin’s political strategy
This move by Putin to offer Russian citizenship to all people of Ukraine is part of broad political strategy of Kremlin. The announcement came hours after Russian missiles struck Ukraine’s second-largest city on Monday killing at least six people and injuring 31. Three missiles had hit Kharkiv, the second largest city of Ukraine, in an attack described as “absolute terrorism” by an official.
Kharkiv regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said, “Only civilian structures — a shopping center and houses of peaceful Kharkiv residents — came under the fire of the Russians. Several shells hit the yards of private houses. Garages and cars were also destroyed. Several fires broke out.”