Ukrainians in the occupied territories of Ukraine are being coerced into taking Russian citizenship, according to a recent report. The conflict in Ukraine, which began in 2014, has led to an increase in tensions and a deteriorating situation for the local population. The report highlights how residents of the Donbas region, which includes the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, have been forced to obtain Russian passports in order to access basic services and benefits. This coerced citizenship effectively deprives them of their Ukrainian nationality and further deepens the division between Ukraine and the occupied territories. The conflict in Ukraine was sparked by Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the subsequent military intervention in the Donbas region. Since then, pro-Russian separatists have gained control of parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, creating a de facto border between Ukraine and the occupied territories. The report, commissioned by the Ukrainian government, details how the residents of the occupied territories face numerous challenges, including the difficulty of obtaining vital documents such as birth certificates and passports. This forces them to turn to Russian authorities for documentation, effectively surrendering their Ukrainian identity in the process. One of the key motivations behind this forced citizenship is the denial of Ukrainian social benefits and entitlements to the local population. By obtaining Russian passports, those living in the occupied territories become eligible for Russian social security benefits, healthcare, and pensions. However, this comes at the cost of losing access to crucial Ukrainian services and support. Furthermore, the report reveals that the process of obtaining Russian citizenship is far from straightforward. Applicants are often subjected to lengthy bureaucratic procedures, requiring them to navigate a complex administrative system. This deliberately convoluted process adds further obstacles for the residents of the occupied territories, effectively pressuring them into acquiring Russian passports. The consequences of this coerced citizenship extend beyond the deprivation of Ukrainian identity and social benefits. By accepting Russian passports, the local population also becomes subject to Russian law. This has significant implications for their civil and political rights, as well as their ability to participate in the democratic process. Additionally, the report highlights concerns over the long-term implications of this forced citizenship. By acquiring Russian passports, residents of the occupied territories effectively become Russian citizens, potentially further complicating any future political resolution to the conflict. It also raises questions regarding their right to return to Ukrainian territory in the event of a peaceful settlement. The issue of forced citizenship in the occupied territories of Ukraine is just one aspect of the wider humanitarian crisis resulting from the conflict. The ongoing violence and instability have led to a significant deterioration in living conditions for the local population, with reports of human rights abuses, restriction of movement, and limited access to basic services. The Ukrainian government and international community have condemned the practice of forced citizenship in the occupied territories. They argue that it undermines Ukraine's sovereignty, violates international law, and hampers efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Efforts to address this issue include providing support and assistance to those affected by coerced citizenship, advocating for their rights, and raising awareness of the situation. The Ukrainian government has called on the international community to put pressure on Russia to respect the rights of those living in the occupied territories and to work towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The issue of forced citizenship in the occupied territories of Ukraine is a clear violation of international law and an affront to human rights. It not only deprives individuals of their national identity but also exacerbates divisions between Ukraine and the occupied territories. The Ukrainian government and the international community must continue to push for an end to this practice and work towards a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict.
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