Kyiv warns Donbas residents against accepting possible offers of Russian citizenship
In case Ukrainian nationals living in the temporarily occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions obtain Russian passports, they will automatically lose Ukrainian citizenship, Deputy Minister for temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons, Yuriy Hrymchak, said.
Commenting to Obozrevatel on the recent reports were sources suggested Russia could start issuing passports to Donbas residents, Hrymchak said the data on those who have acquired Russian citizenship will be put in Russia's public data bases.
"In accordance with our legislation, acquiring another citizenship leads to the fact that a person can lose Ukrainian citizenship," the official noted, adding that those who opt for Russian passports will "almost automatically" be stripped of Ukrainian citizenship.
The deputy minister suggests Russian authorities could actually go for such a step of issuing Russian passports to residents of the pseudo-republics in eastern Ukraine as they have already done in unrecognized Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia.
“I guess such step could be made to claim that 'we have our citizens there so we're going to protect them.' Perhaps this is an option to evacuate their people, because if peacekeepers are deployed tomorrow, we must understand that a significant number of those living there will flee to Russia, fearing prosecution for the crimes that have committed. And for them to have at least some official status, they will be given these passports," Hrymchak suggests.
The deputy minister does not rule out an option that issuing Russian passports could become grounds for the Russian troops to be deployed in the area in the future.
"It can't be ruled out that they will say that their citizens live there, they'll protect them, and deployed their troops there openly. This option is also on the table. Russian army still remains in Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia," the official said, adding that Russia will try to "repeat the situation that has already been many times worked out by Russian authorities."
Russia has for several years been spinning rumors suggesting Russian passports could be issued to Ukrainian nationals living in the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions occupied by Russian proxy forces.