After the invasion of its troops, Russia now wants to consolidate its influence in the Ukraine by issuing passports to the people in the occupied Cherson region and in the Zaporizhia region.

Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday to make it easier for residents of the Ukrainian territories to obtain Russian citizenship. In 2019, Putin had already instructed the breakaway Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk to obtain Russian citizenship more easily. Hundreds of thousands of people took advantage of the offer.

The Ukrainian government fears that Russia could incorporate the Luhansk, Donetsk and Kherson regions along the lines of Crimea, which annexed the Black Sea peninsula in 2014. Putin had already recognized the People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states against strong international criticism. However, it is unclear whether they want to remain independent or apply for admission to the Russian Federation.

Among other things, Russia justifies its military invasions by wanting to protect its citizens or new citizens abroad. For seniors in the areas, for example, Russian citizenship is associated with higher pension payments.

The Ukrainian government repeatedly warns its citizens not to accept these offers from the Russian leadership and to betray their own country.