Under a decree signed on Wednesday by President Vladimir Putin, residents with a permanent residence in “individual counties” in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions can become Russian citizens through a “simplified process,” the Kremlin said.
Kremlin referred to a shorter timeline needed to examine the necessary documents.
“The timing of such a decision immediately after Ukraine’s presidential election, which demonstrated Ukraine’s strong attachment to democracy and the rule of law, shows Russia’s intention to further destabilise Ukraine and to exacerbate the conflict,” she added.
In Ukraine’s second round of presidential elections held on Sunday, Volodymyr Zelensky defeated incumbent Petro Poroshenko.
Both are seen as pro-European.
Poroshenko called on the international community to tighten sanctions on Russia, while Zelensky’s team condemned the action as an “obvious confirmation … of Russia’s real role as an aggressor state.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of State called the decree a “highly provocative action.”
Prior to the announcement, Moscow had already been recognising documents such as birth certificates or vehicle registrations from the separatist regions’ authorities.
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