Ukraine has responded to the fact that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin earlier has signed a decree that facilitates the procedure of granting Russian citizenship to residents of the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Thus, Incumbent President Petro Poroshenko has made a statement protesting actions of Russia. In part he called these actions another unprecedented interference in domestic affairs of an independent State, a flagrant violation of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine as well as the outright defiance of Russia’s obligations within the Minsk agreements.

“The Kremlin infringes deliberately and cynically upon international humanitarian law which bans the occupation authorities to change the citizenship of residents of the occupied territories, - the statement of the Incumbent President says. – The Russian Federation has crossed the red line again. It is frustrating openly and blatantly the peace process in the Donbas”. In the words of Poroshenko, Russia aims at cancelling altogether the Minsk agreements that stipulate its obligations in a precise and clear way, namely: to cease fire, withdraw its troops and military equipment, free Ukrainian prisoners of war and transfer control over its State border to Ukraine. The similar statement has been released by the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine.

National Security and Defense Council Secretary of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov referred to the Russian decree as “a deliberate aggression against our State and pressure on the Ukrainian leadership”. Turchynov claims that by issuing such a decree Putin creates legal conditions to use Russian troops officially against Ukraine allegedly for the protection of his citizens.

Representatives of the team of President-Elect Volodymyr Zelensky came up with a statement too. “The Russian Federation has acknowledged its responsibility as a State-invader, - the statement says. – Its actions show the international community the true role of Russia as a State-aggressor that conducts war against Ukraine. Regrettably, this decree does not bring use closer to our major goal – to achieve ceasefire.

Meanwhile, Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson of Russian Foreign Office, stated on Facebook that Russia was forced to resort to such a step in order to restrain intentions of future President Volodymyr Zelensky who allegedly said that he would speak against granting the Donbas a special status and would not sign an amnesty law.

To the illegal Russian passports-granting decree, foreign partners of Ukraine responded quickly and unequivocally. They have stressed that the decision of the Kremlin violates international law and contradicts the Minsk agreements. In part, the joint statement of Germany and France, members of the Normandy Four format, says the following, “We condemn the Kremlin decree which is intended to facilitate the process of giving Russian citizenship to the population of certain regions of Eastern Ukraine. These regions are part of Ukrainian territory. The decision of Russia goes contrary to the spirit and goals of the Minsk agreements”.

The U.S. Department of State said in its statement released on April 24, “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decree on the issue of passports to residents of Russia-controlled territories in Donbas is a provocation and an assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity...” Washington claims that Putin’s decision is a serious obstacle to the implementation of the Minsk agreements and the reintegration of the Donbas.

The U.S. Department of State also noted in its statement that the next president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky had repeatedly expressed his readiness “to engage seriously with Russia to implement the Minsk agreements, and to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine. It is now up to Russia to decide whether it wants to continue to escalate tensions or meet its Minsk commitments”.