The Russian passport move appears to be part of Putin’s strategy, which could also involve annexation of territory into the Russian Federation. The Russian president set the stage for such moves even before the invasion, writing an essay last summer claiming Russians and Ukrainians are one people and attempting to diminish the legitimacy of Ukraine as an independent nation. RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR

As Russian missiles struck a key Ukrainian city, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Monday expanding a fast-track procedure of obtaining Russian citizenship available to all Ukrainians, yet another effort to expand Moscow’s influence in war-torn Ukraine, AP reports.

Until recently, only residents of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as residents of the southern Zaporizhzhia and the Kherson regions, large parts of which are now under Russian control, were eligible to apply for the simplified passport procedure.

Ukrainian officials haven’t yet reacted to Putin’s announcement. The decree Monday also applies for any stateless residents currently in Ukraine.

Between 2019, when the procedure was first introduced for the residents of Donetsk and Luhansk, and this year, more than 720,000 people living in the rebel-held areas in the two regions — about 18% of the population – have received Russian passports.

In late May, three months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the fast-track procedure was also offered to residents of the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions and a month ago, the first Russian passports were reportedly handed out there.

Read more

© Copyright LaPresse