On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin claims that Russians and Ukrainians were “one people” and would seek benefit from “common citizenship”, after he asked Kiev by offering to fast-track Russian passports for people of Ukraine.
He told reporters, “I’ve said many times that Ukrainians and Russians are brotherly nations. Moreover, I believe that they are essentially one people with various cultural, linguistic and historic peculiarities,” adding that “if Ukraine gives passports to Russians and we in Russia give passports and citizenship to Ukrainians then sooner or later we will inevitably have a predictable outcome — everyone will have common citizenship.”
Ahead of saying “Goodbye” to Ukrainian reporters, President Putin said, “This should be welcomed.”
Observers are watching closely for signs of a thaw in ties between Ukraine and Russia after a comedian with no political experience, Volodymyr Zelensky has won a landslide victory in this month’s Presidential Elections in Ukraine.
Kremlin hasn’t congratulated Zelensky, and in one of the first declarations after the vote President Putin said that Moscow thought of making it easier for Ukrainians to seek Russian citizenship.
Last week, the Russian President has signed a decree permits people living of eastern Ukraine to get a Russian passport within just three months of applying for it.
Kiev and the West have blamed the decree, saying President Putin is seeking to further weaken Ukraine, while critics considered the move would be a major burden for the Russian economy.
In 2014, Moscow has annexed Crimea and moved to aid Russian-speaking separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Some in West and Kiev has worry that Moscow’s offer of common citizenship to Ukrainian would offer the Kremlin a justification to move troops across the border under the excuse of protecting the interests of Russian people.
In reply, Zelensky has pledged to grant Ukrainian citizenship to Russians who “suffers” under Kremlin rule.
He has further doubted many Ukrainians would take Moscow up on its offer as a passport holder of Russia means, “the right to be arrested for a peaceful protest and the right not to have free and competitive elections.”
On Monday, President Putin has appeared to go out of his way to show he wasn’t upset.
Referring to Zelensky, Vladimir Putin said, “We have a lot in common,” adding that “It means we’ll find a common language.”
Critics of Volodymyr Zelensky is led by outgoing President Petro Poroshenko said that the 41-year-old political newcomer will not be able to stand up to the Russian President.
Zelensky is likely to take office by early June, 2019.