Russia to continue recognizing Donbass residents as Russian Citizens

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MOSCOW – Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov explained that Russia will continue to hand Russian citizenship to residents of Donbass who apply, and the fact that Ukraine views these as illegitimate documents will not change anything.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladimir Groisman announced that his cabinet plans to take a decision that will qualify Russian citizenship requested by residents of Donbass as illegitimate. Notable, however, is the inability of any state to consider the citizenship and citizens of another country as null and void.

“What reaction can they have?” The Kremlin will continue issuing citizenship to residents who request them in accordance with the presidential decree,” Peskov said in response to the question of how the Kremlin would react to such a decision.

On April 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree that facilitates the processing of the Russian passport for the inhabitants of certain areas of the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk, which are territories of Donbass outside the control of Kiev. This effectively makes these residents in the disputed territories into citizens of Russia.

The Russian leader stressed that Russia does not intend to create problems for Kiev with this measure and argued that it is a humanitarian decision, alleging the serious situation of human rights in Donbass.

Experts have viewed these moves by the Kremlin as momentous, setting the stage for what could be a result very similar to that which exists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia – two regions formerly of Georgia that now exist as independent republics with a tight relationship to the Russian Federation. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are partially recognised republics in the Caucasus, claiming independence from Georgia.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pável Klimkin said that Kiev is preparing an “effective response” to the delivery of Russian passports to the residents of Donbass.

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“We are preparing an effective response to the Kremlin, a systemic and asymmetric response at the same time, but I will not reveal our concrete steps, I want it to be a surprise,” Klimkin wrote in a column of the newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda.

Experts generally view this standard stance of Ukraine as a default acceptance that their response potential is in fact very low.

The Ukrainian foreign minister also announced that he called on the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7), the European Council and other partners to impose new sanctions against Moscow.

Since April 2014, Kiev has carried out an operation against both the citizens and militias in Donbass, in the east of the country, where the popular republics of Donetsk and Lugansk were proclaimed in response to the violent change of the central government that occurred in February of the same year.

The Minsk Agreements, signed in September 2014 and February 2015, laid the foundations for a political solution to the conflict, but have not yet led to the cessation of hostilities.

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