At least 400,000 residents of the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which are not under Kyiv’s control, have received Russian passports, said Ukrainian Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Olekii Reznikov in an interview with Ukrayinska Pravda.
"The statistics are constantly changing, the Russians say one thing, we check, find another. But there are at least 400,000, it is true," Reznikov said.
Back in December, he said that there are 300,000 Ukrainians with Russian passports in the Donbas.
Reznikov added that the Russian passport does not make these citizens Russians.
"People who have received passports of the Russian Federation, they are disenfranchised in Russia. If a person comes to Russia with this passport tomorrow, he will be deported ... Therefore, the presence of these passports is only an excuse. Will the Russians want to invade ostensibly to protect these citizens? They have this scenario, I'm sure, there. But will they use it? My hope and expectation are that this will not happen. What for? Moreover, we do not give in to provocations. They got a pretty tough reaction. I think it was so tough and ерун didn't expect it from the world," Reznikov said.
In the spring of 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the simplified regime of issuing Russian citizenship to residents of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and Ukrainians who lived in Crimea and the Donbas until the spring of 2014. Later, Putin expanded the simplified procedure for receiving Russian passports to the entire Donbas.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that Russian passports issued to residents of LPR and DPR would be invalid and called Putin's decrees "meaningless."