Jun 11, 2022 - World

Russia issues passports to Ukrainians living in two occupied cities

Soviet Banner of Victory flying near a WWII memorial in the Russian-occupied city of Kherson on in May 2022..

The Soviet Banner of Victory flies near a WWII memorial in the Russian-occupied city of Kherson, Ukraine, in May. Photo: Andrey Borodulin/AFP via Getty Images

Russian forces occupying two Ukrainian cities have begun handing out Russian passports to citizens, Russian state media said Saturday.

Why it matters: Ukrainian authorities have condemned the creation of Russian citizens on Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia as "Russification" and a "flagrant violation" of its territorial integrity, according to the BBC.

  • The occupation of parts of Ukraine also goes against Russian President Vladimir Putin's claims at the start of the Kremlin's invasion in February.
  • “Our plans are not to occupy Ukraine, we do not plan to impose ourselves on anyone," Putin said just hours before the invasion began, according to CNN.

Russian state media outlet TASS claimed Saturday that 23 Russian passports were presented to the residents of the city of Kherson on Saturday and an undisclosed amount were given to residents of the city of Melitopol.

  • It alleged that over 70,000 people in Ukraine's Zaporizhia region applied for Russian citizenship, though that assertion could not be verified.
  • It said Putin signed a decree on May 25 that relaxed rules for granting Russian citizenship to residents of Ukraine’s Zaporizhia and Kherson regions.

The big picture: G7 countries declared last month that they will never recognize illegally altered borders stemming from Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

  • In April, a deputy commander of Russia's central military district said that the Kremlin seeks to achieve full control of southern Ukraine and the country's Donbas region.
  • Independent legal scholars and human rights experts accused Russia in a report last month of inciting genocide and perpetrating atrocities that reveal an "intent to destroy the Ukrainian national group."

Go deeper ... Zelensky: Fate of eastern Ukraine tied to fighting in Severodonetsk

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