He said this at a press conference in Kyiv on Thursday, May 20, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
"This is definitely the first step, because the same thing happened in Crimea. Crimea residents were given Russian passports. And this is a big problem," Zelensky said, answering the question whether he considers Russia’s passportization in the temporarily occupied territories an annexation.
As reported, pursuant to the decree signed by president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in 2019, residents of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (CADLR) and Ukrainian citizens, who lived in Crimea in March 2014, can apply for expedited Russian citizenship.
According to Russia’s official data, almost 530,000 Ukrainian citizens have already received Russian passports in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. According to statements by the Russian side, about 1 million illegal Russian passports may have been issued to Donbas residents by the end of 2021. At the same time, representatives of the Russian government and parliament have repeatedly stated that now Russia must "protect", including by armed means, people in eastern Ukraine who illegally obtained Russian passports.
The European Union and the United States have repeatedly expressed deep concern about Russia's continued issuance of passports to residents of CADLR, which is contrary to the Minsk Agreements and is a clear violation of Ukraine's sovereignty.