Lithuania wants EU to bar east Ukraine’s Russian passports

Russian passports issued in east Ukraine might be barred from entering into several countries. [Shutterstock]

Lithuania is working with the European Union to establish a common policy not to recognise Russian passports issued in east Ukraine, currently controlled by Moscow-backed separatists, Vilnius said Tuesday (6 August).

“Lithuania strongly supports the need for a coordinated common EU approach to the non-recognition of those passports,” the Lithuanian foreign minister’s spokeswoman Rasa Jakilaitiene told AFP.

The move by the EU Baltic nation of 2.8 million people comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin in April simplified the procedure for residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to obtain Russian citizenship.

Ottawa announced last month that it would take action to ensure the passports could not be used to travel to Canada, while the EU also released a statement saying it “stands ready to consider further options, including non-recognition.”

Russia’s interior ministry says there will be no indication of a place of residence or any former nationalities on the passports, which could make it difficult to put any potential non-recognition plan into practice.

Jakilaitiene said Lithuania spent several months seeking out allies for the idea and now expects the European Commission to initiate a common policy.

Baltic neighbour Estonia announced Monday that it will implement the same measure nationally.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine erupted in 2014 after a popular uprising ousted pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych and Russia responded by annexing Crimea.

Some 13,000 people have been killed over the course of the conflict, according to the United Nations.

Kiev and its Western backers accuse Russia of funnelling troops and arms across the border to fan the flames of the conflict. Moscow denies any military involvement.

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