Putin signs decree offering Russian citizenship to foreigners serving in army during Ukraine invasion

Foreign nationals who sign a contract with the Russian armed forces to serve in the army or "military formations" during the Russian invasion of Ukraine may be eligible for Russian citizenship. The corresponding decree, signed by Russian president Vladimir Putin, was published on Thursday, January 4, on the website of regulatory legal acts. The closest family members of war participants will also be able to obtain Russian citizenship.

In addition, foreigners who have been discharged from the Russian forces during the war due to health reasons, upon completion of their contract term, upon reaching the maximum age for military service, or due to the termination of the state of emergency, may apply for Russian citizenship. According to Putin's decree, Ukrainian-born citizens who had been permanently residing in Crimea or Sevastopol until March 18, 2014, also have the right to apply for Russian citizenship.

In May 2023, Putin already signed a decree allowing simplified procedure for granting Russian citizenship to foreigners who have signed a contract to serve in the Russian armed forces. The head of the Russian Investigative Committee, Bastrykin, previously suggested revoking the citizenship of migrants who have obtained Russian passports in case they refuse to participate in the war against Ukraine.

According to MediaZona news outlet, approximately half of the decrees signed by Putin in 2023 were classified. The President's decrees are numbered sequentially, with the counter being reset at the beginning of each year, the outlet noted, citing data from the Kremlin’s official website for publishing legal acts. By tallying the number of skipped numbers, it is possible to determine how many of the decrees were classified, MediaZona reported.

In 2022, amidst the invasion of Ukraine, the proportion of such classified decrees rose to 45 percent. In 2023, it reached a record of 49.5 percent. Classified decrees are used, among other purposes, to award military personnel and pardon those convicted and recruited for war.

However, the total number of decrees signed by Putin in the second year of the invasion hardly changed. In 2022, 996 decrees were signed, and in 2023, it increased by only one to 997. Putin previously set a record for secret decrees in 2001 during the peak of the Second Chechen War, with the number of such decrees standing at 47 percent, according to MediaZona's calculations.

  War in Ukraine, Putin, Russia