Estonia refuses to recognize Russian passports issued to Donbas residents

Estonia does not recognize Russian passports issued to residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions which are not under Ukraine’s control. Estonian Foreign Ministry made the relevant decision on Monday, August 5, as reported by the Ministry’s press service.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs made the decision to not recognise the passports issued by the Russian Federation to the residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts after 24 April 2019, if the user of the passport was previously not a Russian citizen. The decision enters into force immediately," the statement reads. The decision takes effect immediately.

Earlier, Estonia made a similar decision with regards to the owners of Russian passports (issues beginning March 18, 2014) in the annexed Crimea.

Commenting on the Russian Federation's decision to hand out its passports to residents of the separatists-held territories of Ukraine, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu noted that Russian actions contradict the spirit of the Minsk agreements and constitute another attempt to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and freeze the conflict in the Donbas.

"Today's decision by Estonia reflects our fundamental condemnation of Russia’s ambitions of this nature," the minister added.

On April 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree which allows residents of the territories of eastern Ukraine which are not under Kyiv’s control, as well as residents of the annexed Crimea, to obtain Russian passport using a simplified procedure. 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 the 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 [in the Donbas and Ukraine]”.

  Estonia, Russia, Donbas