The United States will not recognize Russian passports issued in areas of the Donbas outside of Ukrainian control and Russian annexed Crimea, said Kurt Volker, US State Department’s Special Representative for Ukraine.
In response to a question asked by a Radio Svoboda correspondent during a telephone briefing in Brussels, the American official said that he considers Russia issuing passports to Ukrainian citizens in the east of Ukraine a “provocative step”. However, he doubts many Ukrainians will apply for these passports as “the Russian occupation of the Donbas has resulted in a lot of suffering.”
On April 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree that residents of areas under Russian militant control in eastern Ukraine, as well as residents of the annexed Crimea, will be able to follow a simplified procedure when applying for a Russian citizenship. Ukraine and its Western allies sharply criticized the decree.
On April 27 in Beijing, Putin declared that the Kremlin was considering whether or not to simplify the procedure for all Ukrainians to apply for Russian passports. On May 1, he signed a decree simplifying the procedure for Ukrainians born and living in Crimea so that they could receive passports in the next three months.
The Verkhovna Rada appealed to a number of international organizations, as well as to countries in the European Union, the USA, and the diplomatic missions of foreign states in Ukraine to strengthen sanctions against Russia in response to Moscow’s decision.
The administration of Ukrainian President-elect Vladimir Zelensky stated on Facebook that the decree on the issue of Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens is “Russia’s admission that it is an occupying power”.