Ukraine protests slow creep of Russian state into non-government-controlled Donbas

31 January 2022, 02:32 PM

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry in a statement on Jan. 29 decried plans by Russia to simplify welfare benefit procedures for the population of the non-government-controlled part of Ukraine’s Donbas region.

“We consider… the granting of social benefits via the Russian state services portal to people who live in the temporarily occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts to be another breach of Ukraine’s sovereignty,” the ministry said.

“(This) is aimed at continuing the forced integration of the population of temporarily occupied territories of our state into the Russian political, economic and humanitarian space,” the ministry added.

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The statement accuses the Kremlin of further meddling in the Donbas amidst ever escalating tensions around Ukraine’s borders, where 130,000 Russian soldiers and military equipment have been deployed.

“Just as we and our partners are doing everything to de-escalate, this new decision by the Russian leadership is hardly conducive to those efforts,” said the ministry.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin decreed that people in the Donbas living under Russian occupation would be entitled to Russian welfare benefits, provided they have Russian passports. More than 720,000 residents of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts have been issued with Russian passports, according to Russian news agency TASS.

This Russian policy of “passportization” has been soundly criticized by the Ukrainian side, which says that the granting of Russian citizenship to Ukrainian nationals represents a form of “creeping annexation,” as well as serving as a possible excuse for further Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory.

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