Germany, France slam Russia over east Ukraine passport scheme

BERLIN, (AFP) – Germany and France on Thursday condemned Moscow for making it easier to obtain Russian passports in separatist areas of east Ukraine, saying the move undermined the Minsk peace agreements.
“Together with France, we condemn the Russian decree, which would ease the granting of Russian citizenship to people in parts of east Ukraine,” the German foreign ministry said on Twitter. “Russia’s announcement contradicts the spirit and goals of the Minsk agreements. That is the opposite of the now urgently needed contribution to deescalation,” it added.
Three days after Ukraine elected a new president, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the decree aimed at residents of the unrecognised Donetsk and Lugansk republics that broke away from Kiev in 2014 and are governed by Moscow-backed rebels.
People living in the separatist regions will now be entitled to receive a Russian passport within three months of applying for one.
Ukraine’s president-elect Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian who won Kiev’s weekend vote, has called for more international sanctions against Russia in response to the move.
The conflict between the Ukrainian government and breakaway rebels began after Moscow annexed Kiev’s Crimea peninsula in 2014. The war has claimed some 13,000 lives despite repeated efforts, led by France and Germany, to broker a lasting ceasefire, most notably during talks in the Belarus capital Minsk.

(A banner (top), which reads ‘Our choice is Russia!’ is on display in a street in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine April 25, 2019. Photo:Reuters)

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