U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker says that it is a very provocative step for the Russian authorities to issue Russian passports to citizens of Ukraine in Russia-occupied Donbas.
"Well, first off, that's a very provocative step for Russia to take to go forward and say we will give passports, Russian passports, to the citizens of another country," he said during a video conference for European journalists on Tuesday, May 28, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
"That being said, I don't think Ukrainians are going to be rushing to take up these passports. They are suffering a lot under Russia's occupation in the Donbas as it is. And we also will be looking at whether we are in a position to identify and not recognize those passports, as we do in the case of passports issued in Crimea already," he said.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 24 signed a decree on the expedited procedure for the issue of Russian passports to residents of temporarily occupied Donbas. On April 27, Putin said Russia could simplify the procedure for granting Russian citizenship to all Ukrainians – not only to those who reside in Russia-occupied districts in the east of Ukraine.
On April 29, a center opened in the town of Novoshakhtinsk in Rostov oblast offering services for issuing Russian passports to residents of Russia-occupied districts in Ukraine's Luhansk region. On April 30, a similar center opened in Rostov oblast's village of Pokrovskoye to service residents of the occupied Donetsk region.
On May 1, Putin signed a decree under which more categories of Ukrainian citizens will be able to obtain Russian citizenship with the use of the simplified procedure, in particular, these are citizens of Ukraine who do not have citizenship of another state, as well as stateless persons who were born and permanently resided in Crimea and left the peninsula before March 18, 2014, as well as their children, husbands (wives) and parents.
Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs resolutely demands that the Russian side immediately repeal all unlawful decisions regarding the issue of Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens and eliminate their negative consequences.
On May 8, 2019, Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers decided to outlaw Russian passports issued in Russia-occupied Ukrainian territory, namely Luhansk and Donetsk regions.