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Sunday, 16 May 2021 01:05 GMT

Russia has issued up to 300,000 passports in occupied areas of eastern Ukraine


(MENAFN - UkrinForm) Russia has issued from 250,000 to 300,000 passports in the temporarily occupied territory of eastern Ukraine to declare later the 'need to protect Russian citizens.

However, Ukrainian territories do not need to be protected from Ukrainians, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with Le Figaro on the eve of his meeting with Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

'The passports have been issued in the temporarily occupied Donbas. Now there are from 250,000 to 300,000 people with Russian passports. They [Russians] do it to say later ‘we are protecting the citizens of Russia'. Look: this is our land, our territory, according to all real maps of the world, not conditional. And our people live in these territories. And we are very open, so citizens of different countries live there, such is the world. And our territories must not be protected from us, Zelensky said.

The President stressed that a similar story happened in Crimea where, according to him, Russia had been issuing its passports since the beginning of Ukraine's independence.

'And then they invaded and said they were protecting Russian people. But when you defend, 14,000 people don't die. It sounds the same in Ukrainian, French and even Russian, that when you defend, people stay alive, the Head of State stressed.

Zelensky believes that Russia's rhetoric about 'protection of Russian citizens is dangerous for Ukraine, Europe, and even Russia.

"There are Russians all over the world, as well as Ukrainians, the French people and other nations. The world is wider than the former Soviet Union, Europe, the United States, China. We cannot restrict people from living or working somewhere on national grounds. For example, IT specialists. We can say that citizens of Russia, India, Ukraine, Great Britain and other countries living in Silicon Valley must be protected. Most of them are not Americans. But this does not mean that each of these countries must protect its citizens and send troops there, the President said.

On April 16, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and First Lady Olena Zelenska make a working visit to France. Russia's escalation of the security situation on Ukraine's eastern borders is expected to be the main topic of the meeting between the presidents of Ukraine and France.

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