• Children born in Ukraine's occupied Zaporizhzhia will be made Russian citizens, authorities said.
  • The move is part of a longer drive to reshape occupied Ukraine to wipe its Ukrainian identity.
  • Russia also forced people to use Russian currency and switched the TV signals to Russian ones.

Children born in an occupied part of Ukraine will no longer be considered Ukrainians at birth, authorities there said.

Instead, they will be given Russian citizenship and considered part of the Russian population.

The step is one of a series of measures in place through occupied Ukraine which are removing its national character and treating it instead as part of Russia.

The announcement about citizenship came from officials speaking to Russian state-run news outlet Ria Novosti.

Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Russian-installed administration in Zaporizhzhia, told Ria that the citizenship changed would be retroactive, affecting any babies born since the invasion began on February 24.

Rogov alleged that the move was made because Ukrainian authorities stopped issuing the documents and locals asked Russia to step in. He did not provide evidence for this claim, and it was not possible to verify it.

Ukraine condemned the move to hand out passports as a "flagrant violation," according to the BBC.

The policy for newborns comes alongside efforts to grant Russian citizenship to adults in occupied areas. Passports have been distributed in the occupied cities Kherson and Melitopol

That continued a years-long policy of giving Russian citizenship to Ukrainians in the areas of the Donbas region that have been controlled by pro-Russian separatists since 2014.

Wider efforts to impose a Russian rather than Ukrainian identity on occupied areas have included imposing the Russian ruble as the currency instead of Ukraine's hryvnia, limiting access to Ukrainian websites, and replacing TV broadcasts from Ukrainian channels to Russian ones.

Teachers have been brought in from Russia to teach the Russian curriculum in schools in  Kherson, according to the UK government, and children have been prohibited from speaking Ukrainian in schools in Mariupol, according to the advisor to the city's mayor before Russia took over.

Rogov told Russia's TASS news agency that a referendum would soon be held in Zaporizhzhia to decide whether the region should formally become part of Russia.

A similar referendum was held in Crimea after Russia annexed it in 2014. Its result — 97% in favor of joining Russia — was rejected by Ukraine, its allies, and the United Nations General Assembly as illegitimate.

The Atlantic Council — a think tank — said earlier this year that turning Ukrainians into Russian citizens was a deliberate strategy by Russia to give itself a rationale for occupation: the need to defend its new citizens.

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