Russia is taking a significant new step towards the integration of the unrecognized republics of the Donbas into its economic space.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree "On providing humanitarian support to the population of certain areas of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine", which gives companies from the so-called Donetsk ansd Luhansk People’s Republics same benefits as Russian companies.
According to the document published on the Kremlin’s website of legal information, Russia will begin to recognize product certificates of origin issued by the DPR and LPR, as well as to purchase their products using the budget.
According to the decree, products from the unrecognized republics should can be purchased for government and municipal needs, as well at tenders of state-owned companies "on equal terms with goods of Russian origin".
In addition, all quantitative restrictions (quotas) on imports from the DPR / LPR and exports to the unrecognized republics through the Russian border are canceled.
These measures are introduced "as an exception until the political settlement of the situation" in the Donbas. Their purpose is "to protect human rights and freedoms" and prevent "a further decline in the standard of living" of the population amid the "ongoing economic blockade and the coronavirus pandemic," the decree says.
The Russian government was instructed to ensure implementation of the president's requirements within a month, including through changes in Russian legislation.
Putin's decree is "a very serious step towards the integration," said the representative of the LPR in the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbas, Rodion Miroshnik.
"In order to fully start the process, the republics have to adapt their own legislation to the standards of the Eurasian Economic Community," he added.
On April 24, 2019, 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.
The Verkhovna Rada appealed to a number of international organizations, as well as to the EU, the USA, and foreign diplomatic missions in Ukraine to strengthen sanctions against Russia in response to Moscow’s decision.
The administration of Ukrainian President 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]”.