Estonia says it will refuse to recognise Russian passports controversially offered to residents in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine.
Vladimir Putin earlier this year promised fast-tracked citizenship to anyone living in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.
Estonia’s foreign ministry said it would not recognise Russian passports issued in those areas after April 24, 2019, unless the holder was previously a Russian citizen.
“Granting expedited Russian citizenship to the residents of eastern Ukraine is another attempt to undermine the independence of Ukraine and perpetuate the current unstable security situation in eastern Ukraine,” foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu said in a statement issued on Monday.
The Estonian Foreign Minister raised the subject of issuing expedited passports at the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union in May. On 20 June, the European Council expressed grave concern on the issue and its readiness to consider the non-recognition of these Russian passports. “I believe that other member states of the European Union and the international community in general will soon make similar decisions. It is our duty to continue to actively support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” he said.
Estonia has previously decided not to recognise the passports of the Russian Federation issued in Crimea and Sevastopol to local residents after 18 March 2014 if the user of the passport was previously not a Russian citizen.
Estonia, along with many other member states, stressed to the European Commission that there was a need to develop European Union guidelines on this issue, and today’s decision is based on July’s guidance. The decision of non-recognition is within the competence of each European Union member state. Estonia processes the visa applications of Russian citizens according to European Union Visa Code and the EU-Russian Visa Facilitation Agreement.
Photo: Crimean Premier Sergei Aksyonov shows his just received Russian Passport in Simferopol, Ukraine, 20 March 2014. Russian President Putin on 18 March 2014 signed a treaty with the Moscow-backed leaders of Crimea and Sevastopol about the two regions’ accession to Russia. EPA/ARTUR SHVARTS