Russia offers fast-track citizenship to its residents of occupied Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a decree simplifying the process of obtaining Russian citizenship and passports for residents of Ukraine’s occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

The decree marks another step towards the “Russification” of the two regions, where Moscow’s war in Ukraine allowed it to establish a continuous land bridge linking Russia with the Crimean peninsula which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Putin’s decision expands a program available to residents of areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where Moscow has issued around 800,000 passports since 2019.

Russia claimed full control of the Kherson region in northern Crimea in mid-March and holds parts of the Zaporizhzhia region to the northeast.

In Kherson, the Ukrainian governor was ousted and the military-civilian administration said earlier this month that it planned to ask Putin to incorporate it into Russia by the end of 2022. Ukraine pledged to regain all of its seized territory.

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