Russia may offer fast-tracked passports to Ukrainians: Putin
Russian President Putin said on Saturday Kremlin was considering granting ‘all Ukrainian citizens’ fast-tracked Russian passports, a move likely to irk Ukrainians who have been at war with pro-Russian separatists since 2014.
The Russian president said this days after signing an order to expedite the procedure for obtaining a Russian passport for residents of pro-Russian separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, provoking calls from Kiev for more international sanctions.
Five years of war between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists have killed 13,000 people despite a notional ceasefire acknowledged in 2015 by both the sides.
Putin’s earlier move was seen as a provocation for the Ukrainian president-elect, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who won in a landslide victory in the presidential election and has vowed to find a peaceful solution to the conflict between two.
Speaking in China, the Russian president said Moscow was now considering extending its fast track passport system to the whole of Ukraine.
“We are thinking whether to grant Ukrainian citizens Russian citizenship using a simplified process,” Putin told media, without presenting further details.
Putin said he also wanted to know Ukraninan president-elect Zelenskiy’s position on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, saying he had the opinion that Zelenskiy would not fulfil the terms of a peace deal sealed in Minsk in 2015 despite Ukrainians being exhausted of the war.
“I’d discuss this matter with him with pleasure as I want to know his position,” said Putin, who said Kiev was overpaying for gas which it could get at much lower cost if it signed a transit deal with Russia.
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