EU slams Russia for ‘another attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty’

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The European Union condemned Vladimir Putin’s decision to fast-track Russian citizenship for people living in parts of eastern Ukraine.

“The signature by President Putin of a decree entitling, inter alia, people who permanently reside in certain areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions to apply for Russian citizenship in a simplified manner, is another attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty by Russia,” a spokesperson for the EU’s External Action Service said in a statement Thursday.

“The timing of such a decision immediately after Ukraine’s Presidential election, which demonstrated Ukraine’s strong attachment to democracy and the rule of law, shows Russia’s intention to further destabilize Ukraine and to exacerbate the conflict,” the spokesperson said, adding that “we expect Russia to refrain from actions that are against the Minsk agreements [an international agreement setting up a process for halting the war in eastern Ukraine] and impede the full reintegration of the non-Government controlled areas into Ukraine.”

The EU’s public condemnation comes a day after Washington also raised concerns about the decree.

“Russia, through this highly provocative action, is intensifying its assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” a State Department spokesperson said.

The Russian government maintains that the new decree is designed to help people on humanitarian grounds.

“With a view to protecting human and citizens’ rights and freedoms, and guided by the universally recognised principles and norms of international law … the President ordered that permanent residents from certain districts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions be entitled to a fast-track procedure when applying for the Russian Federation citizenship,” the Kremlin wrote in a statement.

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