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President Vladimir Putin greets local residents during a visit to the Crimean city of Sevastopol, 9 May 2014. Wikipedia

Kremlin: Donbass residents able to apply for Russian passports

Russian President Vladimir Putin has just signed an order - to be viewed on the official Kremlin site - about issuing Russian passports to the almost four million residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.

Published: April 25, 2019, 7:49 am

    Those  citizens who apply for Russian passports, can look forward to a greatly simplified process.

    Donbass citizens have two passports currently, meaning either a DLPR passport, or a Ukrainian one. With the former, resident are only able to travel to Russia or to South Ossetia. Their stay moreover, has certain time restrictions. A Ukrainian passport in Russia also comes with time restrictions, plus, a stigma attached to it because of the anti-Russian spirit of the current Ukrainian regime.

    Donbass citizens will now however, armed with a Russian passport, be able to freely work in Russia, for as long as they wish, and return home to Donbass whenever they wish. A Russian passport further expedites crossing from Russia into the republics, and back.

    This move comes at a time when Crimea’s recent celebrations of the 5-year-reunification with Russia left many in Donbass feeling desolate, with sentiments such as “abandoned” and “second-class citizen” being expressed.

    The issuing of Russian passports to DLPR residents puts them on an equal footing in that sphere with those in Crimea, or in fact any citizen in Russia, and the twenty or so other republics that make up the Russian Federation. They will become Russian passport-holders, and therefore Russian citizens.

    Furthermore, Russia is a country which has said on many occasions that it will do everything to safeguard the well-being of every Russian citizen. Notably, former President Dmitry Medvedev’s speech at the time of Russia’s intervention in South Ossetia, 2008, stated this fact quite clearly. Also in numerous statements by Putin in reference to Crimea, has he underlined the privilege of Russian citizenship.

    Russian passports make Donbass citizens Russian citizens, subjects, and this comes with the assurance, protection, and status that Russians enjoy.

    Citizens of South Ossetia and Abkhazia all have Russian passports, as Russia recognises and has close ties with both of these republics – DLPR residents will be hoping that recognition for the Donbass comes next.

    This announcement by Russia sends a clear message to Ukraine’s newly elected President Zelensky, that the “return” of the Donbass republics – as with Crimea – is not up for negotiation.

    Zelensky could soon face an energy crisis in his country, according to experts interviewed by Russian daily Izvestia. Minsk, Kiev’s main supplier of oil products made from Russian raw materials, has stopped its oil exports.

    “It is very difficult to find alternative suppliers to Moscow and Minsk, since Ukraine faces a shortage of rolling stock for transporting oil products,” Co-chairman of the Foundation for Energy Strategies in Kiev Dmitry Marunich told the newspaper.

    According to the expert, oil refining in the country is in decline and the situation is aggravated by Russia’s recent decision to ban exports of oil and oil products to Ukraine.

    The Ukrainian fuel market could soon collapse it the crisis continues, Russian news agency TASS reported.

    Zelensky will be invited to the Yalta International Economic Forum (YIEF) in 2020 to be held in Russia in a bid to normalize Russian-Ukrainian relations.

    “Considering their interest and the fact that a number of Ukrainian colleagues confirmed they are ready to come to Crimea, as well as the new president, who, as the Ukrainian people believe, could resolve conflicts and internal crises – we plan to invite the Ukrainian delegation headed by Vladimir Zelensky to visit the YIEF to meet with Crimeans and see how real Crimea lives today,” an organiser said.

    But a lot will depend on the elections to the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada this fall. “In Ukraine, as well as in Russia, there is a great demand for improving bilateral relations in all areas. Many politicians, businessmen, cultural and public figures are in favor of restoring good-neighborly and mutually beneficial ties,” the organiser added.

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