Main Image Credit A 200-square-metre banner of a Russian passport is paraded in Teatralnaya Square, Lugansk, Eastern Ukraine to mark Russia Day on 12 June 2019. Courtesy of Alexander Reka/TASS/PA Images.
How newly-elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy responds to Moscow’s provision of Russian passports to residents in occupied Donbas will not only set the tone for his administration’s foreign policy, but could seriously unsettle Putin’s project of consolidating a sphere of influence in the post-Soviet region.
By 10 July 2019, over 20,000 Ukrainian residents of the self-proclaimed Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics had completed their applications to receive Russian passports under an expedited procedure. According to Ukrainian Deputy Minister on the Affairs of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Heorhiy Tuka, more than 1,000 people have already received Russian citizenship. The number of applicants is actually quite marginal, considering that an estimated 3 million people
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