Ukraine: ‘Unprecedented interference’ – Poroshenko slams Russia over Donbass passports

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Outgoing Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said his country is facing “unprecedented interference” from Russia, following Russian President Vladimir Putin signing a decree to fast-track citizenship applications from Donbass. Poroshenko made the statement in Kiev on Wednesday.

“The Kremlin deliberately and cynically violates international humanitarian law which prohibits the occupation authorities from changing the citizenship of the inhabitants of the occupied territories,” Poroshenko said.

The outgoing president claimed Moscow’s goal was to invalidate the Minsk agreements and by doing so “to justify and legitimize Russia’s military presence in the occupied part of the Ukrainian Donbass.”

He called on Ukraine’s international partners to swiftly condemn Russia’s move and to toughen the sanctions against Moscow.

Speaking earlier on Wednesday in St. Petersburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the decision to sign the decree was done on humanitarian reasons.

“We don’t have any desire to create problems to new Ukrainian authorities, but to tolerate a situation in which people living on the territory of these Donetsk and Lugansk republics are completely deprived of any civil rights, this already goes beyond the borders in terms of human rights. They cannot move normally, they cannot realise their most elementary needs nor their elementary rights. This is a purely humanitarian question,” Putin said.

Following the news, US embassy in Kiev issued a statement on Twitter criticising the decree: “Crimea is Ukraine. Donetsk is Ukraine. Luhansk is Ukraine. We condemn Russia’s recent absurd and destabilizing decree about Russian passports for Donetsk and Luhansk residents and affirm our strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

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