Putin expands expedited Russian citizenship to all of Ukraine

KHARKIV, Ukraine (AP) – As Russian missiles hit a major Ukrainian city, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday expanding fast-track measures to make Russian citizenship available to all Ukrainians, another attempt to expand Moscow’s influence in the war. Ukraine.

Until recently, only residents of the Donetsk and eastern Luhansk regions of Ukraine, as well as residents of the Southern Zaporizhzhya and Kherson regions, large parts of which are now under Russian control, were eligible for the simplified passport procedure.

Ukrainian officials have yet to respond to Putin’s announcement. The two decree also applies to any currently stateless resident of Ukraine.

Between 2019, when the measure was first introduced to residents of Donetsk and Luhansk, and this year, more than 720,000 people living in the rebel-controlled areas of the two regions – about 18% of the population – obtained Russian passports.

In late May, three months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the fast-track procedure was also offered to residents of the Zaporizhzhya and Kherson regions, and a month earlier, it was reported that the first Russian passports were handed over there.

Putin’s move came as Russian bombing of Ukraine’s second-largest city killed at least six people on Monday and injured 31 others, prosecutors and local officials said. Hours earlier, Russian forces had launched three missile strikes on Kharkiv, which one official described as “absolute terror.”

The governor of the Kharkiv region, Oleh Senehubov, said on Telegram that the shelling came from several rocket launchers, and that those who were taken to hospital due to injuries in the attacks included children aged 4-16.

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Only civilian buildings – the shopping center and the homes of the peaceful residents of Kharkiv – were hit by the Russians’ fire. Several shells hit the courtyards of private homes. Garages and cars were also destroyed, and several fires broke out,” Sinihopov wrote.

Earlier, he said that one of the missiles fired by Russian forces at Kharkiv during the night destroyed a school, another hit an apartment building, and the third landed near warehouses.

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“All (three) were fired exclusively at civilian targets, this is absolute terrorism!” Sinihopov said.

Alexander Beresulin, a resident of Kharkiv, said the attacks came without warning, causing him to lose consciousness.

“I was sitting and talking to my wife,” he said. “I didn’t understand what happened.”

Peresolin said neighbors carried him downstairs, where he later regained consciousness.

The strikes came just two days after a Russian missile attack It hit apartment buildings in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 24 people in the town of Chasiv Yar. Emergency officials said nine people were rescued from the rubble, but more are believed to be still trapped. The attack, which occurred late on Saturday, destroyed three buildings in a residential neighborhood mostly used by workers in nearby factories.

Russian attacks also continued in eastern Ukraine, where Luhansk region governor Serhiy Haiday said on Monday that shelling had hit settlements on the border with the Donetsk region. He explained that the Russian forces carried out five missile strikes and four rounds of bombing in the area.

The Luhansk and Donetsk regions together form the eastern industrial heartland of Ukraine known as Donbas, where separatist rebels have fought Ukrainian forces since 2014. Earlier this month, Russia captured the last major stronghold of the Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk, the city of Lyschansk.

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On Monday, the British military said Russian forces were exhausted. The Defense Ministry tweeted that online videos indicate that at least one Russian tank brigade is “mentally and physically exhausted” because they have been on active combat duty since the invasion of Russia. February 24.

Also on Monday, Russia’s main gas pipeline to Germany began a 10-day shutdown for maintenance, adding to European concerns that Moscow may not re-flow after it is completed. The Nord Stream 1 pipeline runs under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany and is the main source of Russian gas. The onward gas is usually sent to other countries as well. Work is set to slow until July 21.

German officials are suspicious of Russia’s intentions, especially after Russian energy giant Gazprom last month cut gas flow through Nord Stream 1 by 60%.

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Jovana Jake in Belgrade, Serbia contributed to this report.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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