MOSCOW, April 29. /TASS/. Ukrainian President-elect Vladimir Zelensky’s response to the fast-tracked process of obtaining Russian passports for Ukrainian citizens was not left unnoticed, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media.
"It is true that comments are being exchanged. We are keeping a record of it and take note of everything," Peskov said regarding Zelensky’s statement.
He recalled that speaking at a news conference in Beijing on April 27 Russian President Vladimir Putin "explained rather clearly his approach to the basics of a dialogue" with the Ukrainian side.
Earlier, Putin said that Moscow was considering the possibility of fast-tracking procedures to grant Russian citizenship not only to the residents of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, but to all Ukrainian citizens. Putin said that the Donbass settlement would be the number one subject of his possible talks with Zelensky. He pointed to Zelensky’s pre-election pledges to the effect he was not going to sign a decree to amnesty the participants of the conflict in Donbass and disagreed with the granting of special status to the territories concerned, which were key elements of the 2015 Minsk Accords.
"How can the problem of the self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk republics be resolved without the implementation of the Minsk Accord?" Putin asked.
Zelensky said on his Facebook page he was prepared for discussing new conditions of coexistence between Ukraine and Russia.
On dual citizenship of Donbass residents
Russia’s offer of citizenship to residents of the self-proclaimed Donbass republics, who will keep Ukrainian passports, won’t create any confusion, according to Peskov.
"This won’t create any problems," Peskov said, commenting on concerns that the citizens of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics will have both Russian and Ukrainian passports.
Peskov recalled that some Ukrainian citizens also have Hungarian or Polish passports. "They have now elected the new president [of Ukraine] and this has not led to any confusion," he emphasized.
The Kremlin spokesman refused to comment on Moscow’s possible response should there be casualties among servicemen of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics with Russian passports. "After obtaining a Russian passport, they won’t stop being citizens of Donbass, which now has been absolutely cast off by its country concerning social benefits, banking services, housing and public utility services and others," he noted.
"Yes, we have heard the statements by President-elect [Vladimir Zelensky] that Ukraine would invite its citizens back to Ukraine and engage them, but it’s unclear how and when this will happen," Peskov said, stressing that easing the procedure of granting Russian citizenship to the Donbass citizens is exclusively for humanitarian purposes.
On granting Russian citizenship to all Ukrainians
Peskov also said that the proposal on easing the procedure of granting Russian citizenship to all Ukrainian citizens is only being discussed now but no decisions have been made on this.
"It is early now to speak about these modalities," Peskov said answering a question on the possible conditions for Ukrainians seeking to obtain Russian citizenship.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said, "this issue is in general on the agenda and is being considered," Peskov noted. "But so far, as you know, no general decisions on all Ukrainian citizens have been made <…> there are no other details," he stressed. On April 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree enabling people living in the Donbass republics (DPR and LPR) to receive Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure. According to the document, the decision has been made "in order to protect human rights and freedoms" based on universally accepted international laws.