Moscow may facilitate procedure for obtaining Russian passports to all Ukrainians- Putin
Beijing, Apr 27 (Sputnik) Russia is considering the possibility of offering a simplified procedure of obtaining Russian citizenship to all Ukrainian citizens, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday.
Earlier this week, the Russian leader signed an executive order, which stated that residents from some districts of Donbas were entitled "to a fast-track procedure," when applying for Russian citizenship on humanitarian grounds.
"We are providing such a procedure not only for the residents of Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) and Donetsk People's Republic (DPR). In general, we are thinking about granting [Russian] citizenship to the citizens of Ukraine in a simplified way," Putin said at a press conference in Beijing following the Belt and Road Forum.
He refuted all claims that the measures would somehow hit the Russian budget.
"These 'scary stories' are, of course, being composed by people and political forces who do not want Russia to support people living in Donbas," he said.
The Russian leader stressed that before making the decision on Russian passports for Donbas residents, Moscow calculated all outcomes, including the number of people it can accept.
The cost of issuing passports to residents of Donbas over several years could reach $1.5 billion, according to Putin.
"Indeed, next year and in the following years, this figure could reach about 100 billion rubles ($1.5 billion). This is not in one year, but in a few years. This is not something critical for us or may put into question the fulfillment of our obligations to Russian pensioners," he stated.
Donbas, an area with predominantly Russian-speaking population, has been engulfed in conflict since 2014. Back then, the Ukrainian authorities unleashed a military operation against the self-proclaimed republics in the region that refused to recognize the new government in Kiev, which came to power after what they considered to be a coup.
In February this year, UN figures showed that over 3,000 civilians have been killed and more than 9,000 injured since the start of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.