Over 80,000 Russian passports issued in ‘annexed’ Ukraine: Moscow

Poland asks Germany to send Patriot missiles to Ukraine

Published : 25 Nov 2022 07:53 PM

Moscow said on Thursday it had issued more than 80,000 Russian passports to residents of four Ukrainian territories since President Vladimir Putin claimed to have annexed the regions in September.

"Since the addition ... of the four regions into the Russian Federation, and in accordance with the legislation, more than 80,000 people received passports as citizens of the Russian Federation," Valentina Kazakova, a migration official with the interior ministry, said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies.

In September, Russia held so called referendums in four regions of Ukraine -- Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson -- and said residents had voted in favour of becoming subjects of Russia.

Putin formally annexed the territories at a ceremony in the Kremlin later that month, even though his forces have never had full control over them.

The United Nations condemned the "attempted illegal annexation" of Ukrainian land and urged the international community "not to recognize any changes announced by Russia to borders".

Russia has since lost swathes of territory that it controlled in Ukraine.

In November, Moscow pulled troops back from Kherson, the main city in the region of the same name and the only regional capital that Russia had captured in the Ukraine offensive.

Since the start of the military campaign in February, the Kremlin has made it easier for Ukrainians to obtain Russian nationality and allowed Ukrainian passport holders to live and work in Russia indefinitely and without a work permit.

 Another report from Warsaw adds: Poland's defence minister has asked Germany to ship a Patriot surface-to-air missile defence system intended for Poland to Ukraine instead, to help its defence against Russia's invasion.

The offer follows a deadly missile blast in a Polish village last week that Warsaw believes may have been a stray Ukrainian air defence missile launched against a barrage of Russian strikes.

"I have asked Germany to send the Patriot system offered to Poland to Ukraine where it could be installed on their western border," Mariusz Blaszczak said on Twitter late on Wednesday.

"This would allow Ukraine to protect itself against incurring more casualties and blackouts and reinforce the security of our eastern border," he said.

The German government earlier this week said it had reached an agreement to help Poland protect its skies, following the explosion near the Ukrainian border which killed two people.

Poland and NATO agree that the blast was probably caused by a stray Ukrainian air defence missile, but have said Moscow is ultimately responsible.

Germany has already sent Patriot air defence units to Slovakia, where Berlin hopes to keep them deployed until at least the end of 2023.

Asked about Blaszczak's comments, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said the request would have to be run past NATO.

"Given Poland's exposed situation... it was important to us as a NATO partner to offer Poland support in this special situation -- with air policing but also with the Patriots," she said, referring to the stray missile.

Lambrecht noted that the Patriot systems were part of the integrated air defence coordinated by NATO.

"Thus other suggestions must be discussed with NATO, with our allies," she told reporters.