Russia will allow residents of Zaporizhia and Kherson regions in southern Ukraine to apply for a Russian passport through “a simplified procedure”, according to a presidential decree issued on Wednesday. The Kherson region has been entirely conquered by the Russian army since its offensive launched on February 24, while that of Zaporizhya is partly controlled by Moscow.

“This simplified system will allow everyone to clearly understand that Russia is not here for a long time, but for always”, reacted Kirill Stremoussov, an official of the Kherson region appointed by Moscow, quoted by the agency. Ria Novosti. “This will speed up our integration and our return home to Russia,” said Vladimir Rogov, a pro-Russian official from the Russian military-controlled part of the Zaporizhzhia region.

Hundreds of thousands of passports already sent to Ukraine

The presidential decree in question also applies to the inhabitants of the separatist territories of Lugansk and Donetsk, whose respective armies participate with Moscow in the fighting against Ukraine. Several hundred thousand inhabitants of these separatist territories have already received Russian passports.

On Monday, pro-Russian authorities in Kherson announced the establishment of the region’s national Russian currency, the rouble, alongside the Ukrainian hryvnia, while hoping that the region will switch entirely to the ruble by the end of the year. .

The United States on Wednesday denounced Russia’s decision to facilitate the granting of Russian passports to residents of southern Ukraine as an attempt to “subjugate” the population now under its control. The plan is “a Russian tactic to subjugate the Ukrainian people – to impose their will by force,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a press briefing, adding that the states States would “strongly reject” such a plan.

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