Russia President Vladimir Putin Wednesday signed a decree expediting the Russian citizenship process for residents living in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. The new decree allows for residents of Russian-occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts to more easily acquire Russian citizenship and passports.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin visited the two regions last week. During his visit, Khusnullin seemed to preview Putin’s decree, saying residents there could become a part of the “Russian family.” Russian-installed officials and pro-Russian officials in both Kherson and Zaporizhzhia also predicted the move.
Russia has already extended a similar program to residents in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR). In February, just days before the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Duma and Putin recognized the independence of the two regions. The move was met with severe condemnation from international leaders.
Ukrainian officials have called for support to help Ukraine take back the Russian-occupied areas. Russian attacks in the eastern portion of Ukraine—where most of the territory in question is located—are still under fierce attack from Russia. In correspondence with the AP, Governor of Luhansk region Serhiy Haidai said “The situation is serious. The city is constantly being shelled with every possible weapon in the enemy’s possession.”