• Vladimir Putin has signed a decree allowing all Ukrainians to easily become Russian citizens.
  • Similiar offers have been made to former Soviet Union nations in the past.
  • Dubbed "passportization," critics say the tactic aims to increase Moscow's influence in such areas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expanded a fast-track citizenship process to all Ukrainians on Monday, according to a decree shared on the Russian government's website.

The move exempts Ukrainian applicants from the usual requirements for Russian citizenship, such as taking a language test or having to reside in Russia for at least five years.

This simplified path to a Russian passport also means Ukrainians don't have to show that they have enough income to support themselves in the country, which is required of all other applicants.

Until Monday, the streamlined procedure had only been available to Ukrainians from the pro-Russia breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as the southern Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, most of which have been seized by Russian forces.

Russia has been known to grant easier citizenship access to the peoples of former Soviet nations that it is in conflict with to maintain its influence in those areas, a tactic that's been dubbed "passportization."

Like Ukraine, other countries with Russian-occupied regions, such as Georgia, have accused Moscow of pushing Russian passports onto their citizens. 

Prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which was partly justified as a liberation of the Donbas, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians living in Donetsk and Luhansk received Russian passports.

Meanwhile, passportization also offers Russia, which has been struggling with a rapidly declining population, millions of new citizens. The situation is similar to when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and allowed 2.5 million people to become citizens overnight.

According to the United Nations, more than 1.5 million Ukrainians have already fled to Russia since the invasion began.

Ukrainians, in particular, represent "almost ideal migrants" to Russia, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs wrote in 2020. "As Eastern Slavs, they are consid­ered easy to integrate; they bring the neces­sary skills for the Russian labor market," the organization said. 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Putin's Monday decree "worthless" and said it "only serves to show Putin's predatory appetites." 

"Russia uses a simplified procedure for issuing passports to tighten the noose around the necks of the residents of the temporarily occupied territories of our state, forcing them to participate in the criminal activities of the occupation's administration and of the invading Russian army," he said in a statement.

Read the original article on Business Insider