Children born in the Russia-occupied region of Kherson in the months after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine will automatically receive Russian passports, a Moscow-installed official said Thursday.
“Children born after [Feb.] 24 automatically receive Russian citizenship,” Kirill Stremousov, an official in Kherson’s pro-Moscow military-civilian administration, told Rusia’s state-run TASS news agency.
Orphaned children in the region, which fell under Russian control in early March, have already received Russian passports, Stremousov added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree “simplifying” the citizenship process for Ukrainians in occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, as well as the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions, on May 25.
A top Kremlin official also promised Russian passports for Kherson residents on a recent visit earlier this month, the first of which were handed out over the weekend.
The fast-tracked citizenship drive has sparked widespread speculation that Russia hopes to annex the areas of Ukraine it has seized during its almost four-month invasion.
On Tuesday, the United Nations warned Moscow against the forced adoption of Ukrainian children who had been taken to Russia since the February invasion.
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