So It Begins: Moscow to Grant Russian Citizenship to Inhabitants of East Ukraine Rebel Republics

It is now likelier that Donbass will eventually be incorporated into Russia, than that it will return under Ukrainian rule


Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order on Wednesday simplifying the procedure for obtaining a Russian passport for residents of separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, prompting calls from Kiev for more international sanctions.

With the two Minsk accords Russia offered to pressure back rebel Donbass under Kiev rule albeit with some autonomy. Poroshenko first signed up for that, but then just as quickly renounced a solution of that type.

Kiev can’t reclaim rebel Donbass without the help of Russia, but there isn’t and will likely never be a Ukrainian politician self-assured enough to take the political risk of granting Donbass autonomy to do it, and Kremlin for its own domestic political reasons can’t push the rebels under Kiev without it, even if it wanted to.

That makes Minsk dead, under Zelensky as much as under Poroshenko. Moscow likely held off on the citizenship/passport decision to avoid unnecessarily boosting Poroshenko in the election, but that it didn’t even wait for Zelensky to be sworn in, goes to show it understands the latter isn’t fundamentally different. In reality Zelensky shares the exact same nationalist approach on East Ukraine, he just focused on the economy and corruption more — something that Poroshenko who had failed on these two could not do.

Russia had previously allowed residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which had broken away from Georgia to seek Russian passports (and thus citizenship) on the grounds that they were otherwise unable to travel and isolated from the world in their tiny ethnic enclaves. It took nearly five years but finally it could scarcely do less for its own Russians-Ukrainians of rebel East Ukraine.

When Georgia sought to reincorporate South Ossetia militarily and invaded in 2008 the fact the Ossetians were Russian citizens (as well as that Georgians had killed Russian peacekeepers patrolling the cease-fire line with the Georgians because the Georgians would not accept patrols with Ossetians) was cited as the reason Russian army swooped into South Ossetia and push the Georgian offensive back. Immediately after Moscow recognized South Ossetia as a country in its own right, independent of Georgia.

That inhabitants of rebel Donbass will now have Russian citizenship and passport makes it all the more certain that in the case of a large-scale Ukrainian army offensive to retake the region for Kiev Russia will intervene, including if necessary by sending the Russian army in openly. And in the aftermath of such an offensive Moscow will contemplate recognizing the independence the two Donbass republics proclaimed in 2014 as they sought to be allowed reincorporation into Russia that was granted to Crimea.

The passport/citizenship decision is significant. I would wager that it is now probably likelier that Donbass will eventually be allowed to join Russia, than it is that it will ever return under Kiev rule.

  1. JustPassingThrough says

    i would say something is afoot.
    yes, it has been five years of fruitless waiting for the wankers in the west to come to their senses.
    yes, it is the humanitarian thing to do.
    maybe just a reason to overtly send RU military to protect its citizens, especially on the borders.
    maybe a move to cause bolthead to start chewing on his moustache again.
    maybe just a defensive move that mimics the So. Ossetia situation.
    but i would still say something is afoot.

  2. John C Carleton says

    Just a shame the USA, following orders received Via Tel aviv, overthrew the legal government, and made Ukraine a dung heap.

  3. CHUCKMAN says

    “Russian citizenship and passport makes it all the more certain that in the case of a large-scale Ukrainian army offensive to retake the region for Kiev Russia will intervene”

    I just do not see that happening.

    First, Ukraine is too militarily incompetent to try it, as they’ve demonstrated over and over.

    And there seems to be no great hunger, except among the minority extreme Right in Ukraine, for war, a big war.

    When Poroshenko tried drafting more soldiers in Western Ukraine, there was a big wave of draft-dodging

    The country already has countless other problems generated by the total incompetence of Poroshenko.

    Putin is always careful and moderate in his policies. I can’t see him sending in the armed forces under almost any circumstances.

    Such action would really lend support to American and British trumped-up charges against Russia of recent years. More and far more severe sanctions would come quickly.

    He takes a long view and has made many references to Donbass and its gradual increasing ties with Russia. The granting of citizenship is just one of these.

    This could also be viewed as pressure on Ukraine to implement Minsk. The new Ukrainian president does give some promising signs, such as speaking in Russian often during the election.

    I very much suspect Putin over time regards Donbass as a lost cause for Kiev, and I tend to agree.

    They are almost certainly gradually going to become viable a mini-state, one with many close connections to Russia – trade, education, and special arrangements.

    There will be no joining the Russian Federation by request, at least for many years.

    1. Cornelis Dekker says

      It is more likely that the rest of the Ukraine will be shared between, Poland, Belarus, Romania, and Russia.

      1. Pierre HU says

        Hungary too !

  4. Joseph Tabone says

    Mr Putin, professional chess player to the world ! The most loved by citizens around the world ! Thanks Mr Putin for your moves !

  5. Juan Olivier says

    Russia has massive amounts of empty land it does not use. I really do not see why Russia needs more land.

    1. Gery Clarkson says

      Russia needs that area for security and strategic reasons. It can’t afford to set up a Yankee military base there!

      1. Joseph Tabone says

        Truly said ! Those are all Russian citizens, and Russia should give them back their Russia passports, although much of them still have !

    2. Cornelis Dekker says

      Juan Olivier, You are so smart!!!, it looks like you don’t know anything about the Donbass., and geography in general.

    3. Juan Olivier says

      You all sound like the Nazi that think it was ok for Germany to invade Poland.

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