Editor’s note – The real significance of the Ukrainian election is becoming increasingly clear – J. Flores
By Graham Phillips – For the near 4 million residents of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics – Putin just signed an order (on official Kremlin site) issuing Russian passports to DLPR citizens who apply, in a greatly simplified process: Here’s what it means, broken down into 4 key areas –
* Donbass citizens have 2 passports currently – 1 or both of DLPR, or Ukrainian. If the former, they can only travel to Russia (or South Ossetia), and their period there has certain time restrictions. A Ukrainian passport in Russia also has time restrictions, plus, a stigma attached to it.
* Donbass republic citizens will, with a Russian passport, be able to freely work in Russia, for as long as they wish, and return home to Donbass whenever they wish. A Russian passport further expedites crossing from Russia into the republics, and back.
This move comes at a time when Crimea’s recent 5-year-reunification with Russia celebrations left many in Donbass looking on feeling like ‘2nd class citizens’, with sentiments such as ‘abandoned’ expressed even.
The issuing of Russian passports to DLPR residents puts them on an equal footing in that sphere with those in Crimea, or in fact any citizen in Russia, and the 20+ republics that make up the Russian federation. They are Russian passport-holders, so Russian citizens.
Furthermore, Russia is a country which has said on many occasions that it will do everything to safeguard the well-being of every Russian citizen – look at Medvedev’s speech at the time of Russia’s intervention in South Ossetia, 2008, and numerous statements by Putin in reference to Crimea, 2014, and on.
Russian passports make Donbass citizens Russian citizens, subjects, and the assurance, protection, and status that come with that.
While not parts of Russia, citizens of South Ossetia and Abkhazia all have Russian passports – Russia recognises and has close ties with both of these republics. DLPR residents will be hoping that recognition for the Donbass republics comes next.
Ukraine has just elected a new president, Vladimir Zelensky. Interestingly, he has made none of the chest-beating, hawk-happy statements that Poroshenko did about “returning” Crimea, and the DLPR to the Ukraine fold. Russia has said they are ready to normalize relations with Ukraine, but this passport move sends the clear message to Zelensky, that the “return” of the Donbass republics (as with Crimea) is not up for negotiation.
This is a very significant step, move, and day.