Russia’s “Passportisation” of the Donbas. The Mass Naturalisation of Ukrainians Is More Than a Foreign Policy Tool (SWP)

Russia has so far issued almost 200,000 Russian passports to Ukrainians from the “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk. This undermines the Minsk peace process. The passportisation of the Donbas is part of a tried and tested set of foreign policy instruments. Russia is deliberately making it more difficult to resolve territorial conflicts in the post-Soviet space by creating controlled instability. This demonstrative intervention in state sovereignty exerts pressure on the Ukrainian central government in Kyiv. Domestically, Russia’s goal is to counteract its own natural popu­lation decline through immigration. Because of the war in eastern Ukraine, more and more Ukrainians have migrated to Russia; this was one of the reasons behind Russia revising its migration strategy in 2018. The liberalisation of citizenship legislation was aimed particularly at Ukraine. By delaying any resolution to the conflict, Russia achieves two objectives simultaneously: it retains permanent influence on Ukraine via the Donbas, and it becomes more attractive to many Ukrainians as a destination for emigration.

https://www.swp-berlin.org/en/publication/russias-passportisation-of-the-donbas/

Fabian Burkhardt

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