The Kremlin has ordered to eliminate all Ukrainian passports in the Donbas by 2025, said Donetsk representative in the tripartite contact group on Donbas Serhiy Garmash, Ukrinform reports.
"The issuance of Russian passports there is picking up speed. According to my information, by 2025 the goal is to ensure that no one has Ukrainian passports. That is, the passports can still be confiscated. And then there will be a problem not with the checkpoints, but the ability of our citizens to enter the controlled territory of Ukraine without Ukrainian documents. The problem is very serious," Garmash said at a press conference "Human rights in eastern Ukraine during the pandemic: how to improve the work of checkpoints on the demarcation line."
According to him, it is difficult to say how this problem can be solved.
Garmash noted that checkpoints do not work because of COVID-19, but for political reasons.
"The Russian Federation purposefully isolates these territories from Ukraine. This is Russia's policy towards the occupied territories - isolation from Ukraine by all means," he said.
At least 400,000 residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which are not under Ukraine’s control, received Russian passports.
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 a 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 many 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 Volodymyr 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]”.