Ukraine at OSCE: Issuance of Russian passports in Ukraine is aimed at legitimizing open invasion of Donbas

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The Kremlin’s decision to simplify the procedure for granting Russian citizenship to Ukrainians living in Donbas is aimed at legitimizing Russia’s military presence and creating a legal basis for the open use of the Russian armed forces against Ukraine, writes Ukrinform.

Ukraine’s Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Vienna Ihor Prokopchuk said this at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on Thursday, according to an Ukrinform correspondent.

“This decree is a gross violation of the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political unity of Ukraine, as well as a powerful blow to the Minsk agreements. We strongly condemn this act of the Kremlin, which is legally null and void, and it will not change the Ukrainian citizenship of residents of occupied areas of Donbas. It is obvious that the Russian Federation has resorted to the illegal issuing of Russian passports in order to justify and legitimize its military presence in the occupied parts of the Donbas,” the Ukrainian diplomat said.

According to him, the OSCE member states are well aware of how Russia is trying to deny obvious facts to hide its military incursion into Donbas. But now, with the so-called ‘passportization,’ it is trying to create a legal basis for the open use of the Russian armed forces against Ukraine,” Prokopchuk said.

The diplomat noted that the Kremlin had applied the same approach in the conflicts in Georgia and Moldova provoked and supported by Russia. “Russian propaganda again propagates the narrative of so-called humanitarian grounds. However, this Russian invasion and occupation has caused unbearable conditions for people who found themselves under occupation, along with the restriction of their human rights and fundamental freedoms,” he added.

Prokopchuk also drew attention to the fact that the decree had been signed by Putin immediately after the holding of free and democratic elections in Ukraine, “which testifies to Russia’s main goal – to destabilize the internal political situation in Ukraine in the post-election period.”

“Russia has made an intentional step towards the destruction of the Minsk agreements and is responsible for the consequences,” he said.

Addressing the delegations of the OSCE member states, the Ukrainian diplomat said that constant appeals to Russia to stop aggression and occupation and return to the international law are constantly ignored by the Kremlin.

“While Moscow regularly makes political declarations about the need to implement the Minsk agreements, in practice it does not fulfill its obligations and, moreover, takes permanent and deliberate measures to worsen the situation and undermine the prospects for a peaceful settlement of the international armed conflict started by Russia,” Prokopchuk said.

As was reported earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree according to which residents of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as Ukrainian citizens who lived in Crimea in March 2014, may apply for a simplified procedure for obtaining a Russian passport.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry condemned this decision by the Kremlin. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko called on the European Union to step up sanctions against Russia during the next review of the existing regime scheduled for June.

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