Kremlin Easing Russian Citizenship for All Ukrainians

President Vladimir Putin …signed a decree giving the right to all residents of Ukraine to obtain Russian citizenship in a simplified manner….

Six months before Russia reinvaded Ukraine, President Putin published a long historical article where he asserted that “Russians and Ukrainians are one people, a single whole.” (See: “Studying Putin’s History of Ukraine,” OE Watch, Sept 2021.)  Attempts to prove this assertion using force have thus far met with considerable Ukrainian resistance.  However, the Kremlin is also employing its administrative and economic prowess to make it easier for Ukrainians to become Russian citizens.  As the first excerpt from the pro-business site Kommersant points out, the Kremlin has recently enacted legislation “giving the right to allresidents of Ukraine to obtain Russian citizenship in a simplified manner.”  The article goes on to stress that this new streamlined procedure does “not require them to renounce Ukrainian or other citizenship.”  The article concludes by quoting a high-level Kremlin official, who claims that “from 2016 to 2020, about 978,000 citizens of Ukraine received Russian citizenship.”

The second excerpt from the popular, pro-Kremlin site Versiya describes how Russian authorities have set up “bus passport tours” to transport those Ukrainians who want to obtain Russian citizenship.  The buses pick up Ukrainians in regions not taken by Russia and transport them to those occupied by Russian forces.  According to the author, Russian “passportization of the Black Sea region is gaining momentum [where, for instance], “the number of residents of Odessa who have received Russian passports goes into the thousands.”  Many pensioners participate in these tours, since once they gain Russian citizenship, they “will be able to apply for Russian pensions (before recalculation – 10,000 rubles [$185] a month.”  The article asserts that there are many other categories eligible to receive monthly payments: “war veterans and children, the disabled…fathers and single mothers…pregnant women,” and that the Russian benefits far exceed those provided by the Ukrainian government.  The article concludes by pointing out that because of the conflict in and around “the Mykolaiv and Zaporozhye regions…, up to 85 percent of local residents lost their jobs… [and] there is only one hope – for Russia.”


Elena Rozhkova, Ksenia Veretennikova, “Гражданам Украины вышло упрощение (Citizens of Ukraine received a simplification),” Kommersant (pro-business site), 11 July 2022.

President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a decree giving the right to all residents of Ukraine to obtain Russian citizenship in a simplified manner…. The expert believes that the updated decree will be relevant given the dynamically changing situation with the transition of Ukrainian territories under the control of Russian troops, as well as for Ukrainian emigrants living in Russia.

According to the new amendments, the possibility of obtaining Russian citizenship in a simplified manner now applies to all residents of Ukraine, and not only to the population of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR) and regions of Ukraine controlled by the Russian armed forces. The document also notes that the presence of citizens in military service cannot serve as a basis for rejecting their applications for admission to Russian citizenship….

…The deputy [Mr. Zatulin] also clarified that residents of the DPR, LPR and Ukraine who receive Russian citizenship are not required to renounce their first citizenship and can have two passports…. 

…In June 2022, TASS, citing the press center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, reported that since April 2019, on the basis of this decree, more than 800 thousand people have acquired Russian citizenship. A year ago, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation Dmitry Kozak… stated that not only residents of Donbass, but also residents of the “rest of Ukraine” apply for Russian citizenship. According to him, from 2016 to 2020, about 978 thousand citizens of Ukraine received Russian citizenship…

Source: Alexander Artishchenko, “Туры за паспортами (Tours for passports),” Versia (popular, pro-Kremlin site), 3 August 2022.

Passportization of the Black Sea region is gaining momentum – Russian citizenship is issued in Kherson, Skadovsk, Genichesk, Nova Kakhovka, Oleshki, Belozerka and Gola Prystan. Despite the fact that it is rather difficult to leave the settlements controlled by Ukraine, besides, they mostly let pensioners through and, less often, women, the number of residents of Odessa who have received Russian passports goes into the thousands….

…Bus passport tours are organized from Zaporozhye and Nikolaev to Kherson – the final destinations of the trip are usually not advertised, but these buses are still allowed through at checkpoints without any problems. As explained by the deputy head of the military-civilian administration of the Kherson region Ekaterina Gubareva, any citizen of Ukraine, regardless of place of residence, even from Lviv, can apply for a Russian passport. … Together with Russian citizenship, pensioners will be able to apply for Russian pensions (before recalculation – 10,000 rubles a month, but in the fall they promise to recalculate and increase pensions, and accrue “from above” what they don’t receive in the summer). Moreover, war veterans and children, the disabled and some categories of beneficiaries are entitled to an allowance of 5,000 rubles per month. The allowance can be issued in the same place as passports. Gubareva separately noted, that monthly social payments are due to fathers and single mothers – at the rate of 10,000 rubles for each child. And payments to a full family for the maintenance of a minor child will amount to 4,000 rubles. Also, pregnant women can apply for social assistance (10,000 rubles – a one-time payment for pregnancy, and another 20,000 – at the birth of a child).

Russia’s social support is especially important, since Kyiv has actually curtailed the payment of pensions and social benefits in the Mykolaiv and Zaporozhye regions. As of early August, up to 85 percent of local residents lost their jobs – able-bodied families do not have the full opportunity to support their elderly and children. In the Odessa region, 70 percent of the inhabitants have lost their jobs (although pensions are still paid there). So there was only one hope – for Russia.

Russia Building Literal and Figurative Bridges to China

…The first road bridge was opened between Russia and China….”

Ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent Western censure, the pro-Kremlin media has reassured its audience that Russia could not be isolated, and that the country would find other trading partners.  China is often cited as an example of an alternate, trustworthy trading partner with which Russia can expand commerce.  The first excerpt from the pro-business source Kommersant describes the recent construction of two bridges in the Far East that will link China and Russia and facilitate trade. 

According to the article this was “the first road bridge opened between Russia and China,” linking Blagoveshchensk (Russia) to Heihe (China) across the Amur River.  Construction began in 2016, and although it was completed two years ago, “the opening had to be postponed due to the pandemic.”  The article also points that back in April, “the first cross-border railway bridge across the Amur River from the Russian village of Nizhneleninskoye to China’s Tongjiang was opened.”  Citing a logistics’ expert, the article also reinforces the notion “that we [Russia] are experiencing a global drop in foreign trade volumes with the European Union, [so] we need any options for the delivery of goods from the Middle Kingdom in order to somehow compensate for the drop in import flows.”

The second article from the pro-Kremlin source National News Service describes additional economic measures intended to further strengthen Russia-China trade.  It cites a Russian economist who asserts that “China can increase the volume of trade and investment cooperation.  Secondly, it is necessary to develop cross-border cooperationelectronic commercescientific and technical cooperation.”  To increase trade opportunities, the expert recommends that it is necessary to move away from dollars in relations with China in the interbank sphere – to the ruble-yuan regime.”  The article concludes by quoting the Chinese Ambassador to Russia who recently said, “that the world is now at an important turning point, promising that the Russian-Chinese relationship will only get stronger regardless of changes in the international situation.”


Sabina Adleiba, “Россия и Китай навели мосты (Russia and China build bridges),” Kommersant (pro-business site), 10 June 2022.

…The first road bridge was opened between Russia and China…. Russia and China signed an agreement on the construction of the bridge back in 2015, work on it began in 2016. For three years, it was erected in parallel from two banks. The facility was ready two and a half years ago, but the opening had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

…The new bridge is two-lane, its length is about a kilometer, plus access roads – 6 km in China, twice as much in Russia. It is expected that more than 600 trucks, about 160 buses and about 70 cars will be able to pass on the new road every day.

In addition, at the end of April, the first cross-border railway bridge from the village of Nizhneleninskoye to China’s Tongjiang was opened. It also passes over the Amur River.  The new route can significantly change this situation, Georgy Vlastopulo, director of Optimal Logistics, believes…. “Taking into account the fact that we are experiencing a global drop in foreign trade volumes with the European Union, we need any options for the delivery of goods from the Middle Kingdom in order to somehow compensate for the drop in import flows.”

Source: Evgenia Zheludkova, “Военные маневры и уход от доллара: Как Китай поддержит Россию в обход санкций (Military maneuvers and the withdrawal from the dollar: How China will support Russia bypassing sanctions),” National News Service (pro-Kremlin site), 3 June 2022.

…China will significantly help Russia in economic terms if it decides to switch to rubles and yuan, said Andrey Ostrovsky, head of the Center for Economic and Social Research of China at the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences…

“It will be more difficult to provide proper economic support, but there are a number of areas in which cooperation can be further developed,” he added…. “Here, firstly, China can increase the volume of trade and investment cooperation. Secondly, it is necessary to develop cross-border cooperationelectronic commercescientific and technical cooperation, there are many points here…”

“The most important problem today is that it is necessary to move away from dollars in relations with China in the interbank sphere – to the ruble-yuan regime….”

…The day before, Chinese Ambassador to Moscow Zhang Hanhui said that “the world is now at an important turning point, promising that the Russian-Chinese relationship will only get stronger regardless of changes in the international situation.”

Chinese Military Scholars Call out Russia for Invading Ukraine

“In the age of liberalization of global trade, countries don’t have to gain power through… grabbing land.  This can be done through technology and capital… but Russia is still obsessed with owning land.”

The accompanying article in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), a Hong Kong-based, ostensibly-independent newspaper, notes a growing list of Chinese intellectuals who have publicly questioned Russia’s justification for invading Ukraine.  This suggests that Chinese thinkers do not widely approve of China’s support for Russia’s actions in Ukraine despite the “no limits” relationship between the two countries that Chinese authorities stated prior to the Winter Olympics.

The focus of the SCMP article is an article by a recently retired Chinese military scholar published on Chinese social media site WeChat.  That article disappeared shortly after it was posted but, according to the accompanying SCMP publication, the author of the article, Gong Fangbin questioned Moscow’s assertion that Ukraine was on the brink of invading Russia, instead suggesting that the real reason Russia invaded Ukraine was that “Russian leaders have taken the wrong path for rejuvenation.”  The author suggested that Russia’s obsession with land as an indicator of strength was misguided and obsolete in the 21st century.  According to the SCMP article, another Chinese intellectual, Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of International Relations at Tsinghua University, recently said that Russia would pay “a huge price” for its invasion of Ukraine.  Finally, Hu Wei, a political scientist affiliated with China’s State Council called on Beijing “to distance itself from Russia as soon as possible over its war on Ukraine.”  Finally, the intellectuals suggest multiple negative repercussions for China. The SCMP article also notes that although China has said it supports Ukraine’s territorial integrity and denied suggestions that it might offer military assistance to Russia, it has not outright condemned Russia’s invasion, has not conducted a head of state visit with Ukrainian President Zelensky, and has criticized U.S.-led sanctions imposed on Russia.


Jun Mai, “Russia’s war on Ukraine based on flawed logic, Chinese military scholar wrote in article scrubbed from the web,” South China Morning Post (a Hong Kong-based, ostensibly-independent newspaper), 21 May 2022.

Russia’s security rationale for attacking Ukraine was flawed and the aftermath underlines the importance of diplomatic flexibility, a Chinese scholar formerly with Beijing’s top military academy has said.

“I still don’t see how any country would have dared to invade the world’s No 2 military power,” Gong Fangbin, a retired professor of the People’s Liberation Army National Defence University, wrote in a recent online article.

“Russia has shown the world time and again that no one dares touch an inch of its land,” he said, countering Moscow’s argument that it was cornered by the West and NATO into invading Ukraine.

“What’s the real reason [for Moscow] to attack Ukraine? I think it’s because the Russian leaders have taken the wrong path for rejuvenation.”

Gong argued that the rationale to attack Ukraine over so-called security concerns was flawed. And the dilemma faced by Russia as it took heavy losses on the ground was the result of having chosen a path “long forsaken by human civilisation”, he wrote in his article posted on WeChat last Tuesday.

The article, however, has since disappeared from the social media platform.

Gong confirmed to the Post that he wrote the article but declined a request for an interview.

Gong, a military veteran who fought in the China-Vietnam war of 1979, is among a small but growing number of Chinese intellectuals voicing scepticism about Moscow’s rationale for its military aggression against Kyiv, despite heavy censorship of the sharing of such views.

“In the age of liberalisation of global trade, countries don’t have to gain power through … grabbing land. This can be done through technology and capital,” Gong wrote. “But Russia is still obsessed with owning land.”

At a Beijing seminar in April, China’s ambassador to Ukraine between 2005 and 2007, Gao Yusheng, argued that Russia had shown signs of having lost the war and its global status was set to decline. A summary of his remarks, first published by news outlet in mid-May, was quickly censored.

But there are others making their opinions known. Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of International Relations at Tsinghua University, said earlier this month that China had not benefited from the war and Russia was set to pay “a huge price”.

And in March, Hu Wei, a political scientist affiliated with the State Council – China’s cabinet – called on Beijing to distance itself from Russia as soon as possible over its war on Ukraine.

As the war enters its third month, Beijing still refuses to condemn Russia’s act of aggression, despite mounting pressure from the US and its allies. It has also sought to rally international support to criticise the sweeping sanctions imposed on Russia, citing disruption to the global economy.

Since Russia launched its military assault on February 24, China has repeatedly said it respects Ukraine’s sovereignty. However President Xi Jinping is among the very few world leaders yet to hold direct talks with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky.

Meanwhile, Chinese diplomats have sought to contain damage from the country’s close, “no limits” relationship with Moscow, as declared in a joint statement issued after Russian President Vladimir Putin met Xi in Beijing ahead of the Winter Olympics.

The diplomatic damage control has involved firmly denying suggestions that China might offer military assistance to Russia, and trying to isolate the Ukraine issue from Beijing’s relations with Europe.

Military scholar Gong had argued in another article earlier this month that the Ukraine war underlined how foreign policy flexibility might suffer if it was too closely tied to domestic politics.

This came after he had referenced the situation in yet another article in March, where he argued that countries only made decisions based on their own interests, and hence it was wrong to consider any country as a “strategic buffer”, as Russia says it had hoped Ukraine would be.

Failure to understand this, Gong argued, would lead one to also believe in the narrative that China’s economic development in the last 50 years owed much to Russia’s confrontation with the United States.“If a country is full of convictions related to strategic barriers and buffer zones, it will tie itself to the vehicles of others and thus lose autonomy, consistency and necessary flexibility,” he warned.

A Russian Strategic Assessment of Russia’s 2022 Invasion of Ukraine

“The result of the defeat of Nazi Ukraine will be a sharp drop in American and, in general, Western influence in the world…”

The accompanying excerpted article from Russian military and defense industry focused weekly Voyenno-Promyshlennyy Kuryer explains that Russian political and military leadership sees Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine as not just a local conflict between two nations, but as a front in a much larger war between Russia and the West.  The author, Konstantin Sivkov, is a retired naval officer and General Staff Academy graduate that served in the Center for Military-Strategic Research of the General Staff.  He is an expert on Russian military modernization and future warfare, the processes of armed struggle, the nature of modern wars and armed conflicts, and the organizational development of the Armed Forces.  Sivkov elaborates on how the Kremlin may perceive the big picture consequences for either succeeding or failing to achieve the campaign’s objectives.  For Russia, the success of this campaign will result not only in the imposition of its will on Ukraine, but also of its narrative on the world.  In short, the Kremlin sees the current conflict furthering one of two competing and mutually exclusive narratives: that of Russia or the West.


Konstantin Sivkov, “Украина – только начало: Геополитическим последствием спецоперации станет изменение (Ukraine is just the beginning: The geopolitical consequences of the special operation will change the entire view of the world),” Voyenno-Promyshlennyy Kuryer (weekly newspaper focusing on military and defense industry), 28 March 2022.

The special operation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine continues to develop. Serious shifts are taking place in the nature of the operational use of the Russian group of forces, indicating a qualitative change in the course of the armed struggle. Under these conditions, the question arises: what will happen next, will the West stop its pressure on Russia and start negotiations, as many Russians hope, or vice versa – will the pressure become even more fierce, will new armed conflicts arise?…

…Thus, we can safely say that Russia is currently at war with the united West. This is a war of a different nature than those that took place in the 20th century. It cannot be declared, because in essence it is a classic hybrid one, from the side of the West…The scale of this hybrid war with the West suggests that it has all the hallmarks of a world war: the presence of opposing coalitions led by global centers of power that have entered directly into a military confrontation, albeit it just in the economic and information spheres, the resoluteness of goals, the use of all possible means of confrontation, refusal to comply with peacetime legal norms with the transition to the principle of military expediency practically on a global scale, drawing most countries of the world into the conflict according to the principle “if not with us, then against us”. That is, we are talking about the beginning of the third world war, which is still taking place in a refined hybrid form – the Western coalition conducts armed confrontation using its proxies — the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in a limited TVD [theater of operations] within Ukrainian territory, while conducting full-scale global economic and information warfare against our country.

…regardless of the outcome of the special operation in Ukraine, the war of the Western coalition against Russia will continue to escalate — the Western and global elites cannot stop without defeating Russia, or suffering a final defeat in this war. After all, at stake is the shape of the future world, of which there are only two variants. One proclaimed Klaus Schwab — the mouthpiece of the globalists. It has no place for states and national elites — the world is controlled by transnational corporations, and is actually privatized by them. An alternative to it is the concept of a multipolar world proclaimed by our president last year at the Davos forum and subsequent key international summits, where states remain the subjects of world politics, and there is no place for the global power of transnational corporations and the corresponding elites.

These two options are mutually exclusive. The victory of one of them means the inevitable collapse, death, at least political and economic sense, and the disappearance of the bearers and beneficiaries of the alternative option into history. Therefore, the struggle has an extremely tough character, when all means are used that can be used without risking their own immediate death. For Western and global elites, the central task on this path is the defeat and subjugation of Russia…

The defeat of Nazi Ukraine will mean the collapse of the entire strategy built by the West and the globalists over the last 20 years. The consequences of this defeat could be catastrophic for the globalists and have a geopolitical scale. Signs of this are already manifesting themselves today in the emerging rapprochement between the UAE and Saudi Arabia with Russia, China’s tough position on the Ukrainian issue, Venezuela’s demand to recognize Maduro as the country’s legitimate president as a condition for starting negotiations with the United States on oil supplies, and a number of other similar manifestations that indicate a loss of authority of the US and the West in the general world order. The result of the defeat of Nazi Ukraine will be a sharp drop in American and, in general, Western influence in the world, which will have the most severe consequences for the economy. Under these conditions, revenge for the Ukrainian defeat may become the main leitmotif of US-European geopolitics.

In turn, the termination of the special operation with the preservation of the current regime, even with a host of various treaty guarantees, will mean a military defeat for Russia. And the consequences of this will be very severe, primarily in the domestic socio-political situation. Such a step will have a negative impact on the international position and status of our country.Therefore, further escalation of tension in the world, especially military, will increase, and we can expect the next stage of the initial period of the third world [war]…