More Ukrainian citizens will be eligible to apply for Russian citizenship under a fast-track procedure starting Wednesday. Moscow and Kiev have been verbally sparring over the issue for a week now.

Last Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree, which allowed people living in rebel-held parts of eastern Ukraine to apply for Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure. The move was justified by humanitarian reasons, Moscow explained, but Kiev denounced it as an act of aggression. The situation even ignited a verbal duel through the media between Putin and Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky.

The Russian leader upped the ante by saying the same fast-track option may be offered to all Ukrainian citizens and now seems to have partially delivered on the promise by signing a new decree, which made more Ukrainian citizens eligible for the program.

The new decree applies to people, who were born or lived in Crimea before March 2014, when the former Ukrainian region rejoined Russia, regardless of them currently holding Ukrainian citizenship or no citizenship at all. The same goes for Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons, who used to live in the rebel-held parts of Ukraine but have since went to Russia to live there as refugees or temporary residents. Their immediate family members, including spouses, are covered as well.

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