In a move to actively support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, Estonia and Lithuania have made the decision not to recognise passports issued by the Russian Federation to the residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east of the country. On August 5th Estonia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that passports issued after April 24th, 2019, if the user of the passport was previously not a Russian citizen, would not be recognised. The same day Lithuania announced identical intentions and asked the EU to support their move.
The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry told the Baltic News Service that it is currently waiting for a coordinated response from the EU. It added that it had voiced its position not to recognise such passports repeatedly at different international gatherings and that if an EU agreement is not forthcoming, Lithuania would act unilaterally.
Estonian diplomats stated that their government made the decision “with immediate effect”. Urmas Reinsalu, Estonia’s Foreign Minister, commented that the step is in response to a regulation signed by the Russian president in April allowing the expedited granting of Russian citizenship to the residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk.
“Granting expedited Russian citizenship to the residents of eastern Ukraine is another attempt to undermine the independence of Ukraine and perpetuate the current unstable security situation in eastern Ukraine. It goes completely against the spirit of the Minsk agreements,” Reinsalu said.
Fearful of Russia’s motives, Reinsalu added, “Today’s decision by Estonia reflects our fundamental condemnation of Russia’s ambitions of this nature.”
Reinsalu also stated that he believes other EU member states and the international community would soon make similar decisions.
The Baltic country has previously decided not to recognise the passports of the Russian Federation issued in Crimea and Sevastopol to local residents after March 18th, 2014 if the user of the passport was previously not a Russian citizen.