Putin hopes can find common language with Zelensky, after latter says some Russians may be granted Ukrainian citizenship
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he believes that Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky's statement on granting Ukrainian citizenship to some Russians he made in reply to Putin's decision to facilitate the issuance of Russian passports to Donbas residents shows that Zelensky and he could find a common language on some matters.
"Really? Did he said exactly that? Well, that's very good. This shows that perhaps we could reach some agreement," Putin said in commenting on Zelensky's statement regarding the issuance of Ukrainian passports to Russian citizens.
"We have a lot in common. If we have common citizenship, this would only benefit both Russians and Ukrainians," Putin said.
This would bring the two nations closer together and make them more successful, he said.
Putin reiterated his conviction that Russians and Ukrainians essentially belong to the same ethnic group, even though they have their specifics, culture, and languages.
Putin also considers it necessary to return Ukrainian citizenship to former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili and other Ukrainians who left the country fleeing from the regime.
"It would be fair to return a Ukrainian passport to someone who in the past was a Georgian but now considers himself a Ukrainian. I'm referring to Mikheil Nikolozovich Saakashvili," Putin told journalists.
Saakashvili was "illegally deprived of citizenship, illegally expelled from the country," he said.
"It [citizenship] should be returned, and his infringed rights should be reinstated, just as those of certain other Ukrainian citizens who were forced to leave the country's territory and depart for the promised lands, fleeing from prosecution by the current Ukrainian regime," Putin said.
Earlier on April 29, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin is thinking about making all citizens of Ukraine eligible for acquiring Russian citizenship, but no decisions have yet been made on this account.
While Peskov was speaking to journalists on Monday, he was reminded of President Vladimir Putin's earlier remark that the issuance of Russian passports to residents of all of Ukraine had been under consideration. Peskov was asked in this context whether Russian passports would be issued to all applicants and whether those Ukrainian citizens who acquire Russian citizenship would be required to move to Russia.
"It's too early to talk about such modalities. The president has said the matter is on the agenda in general and is being thought about. However, no general decisions have yet been made with regard to all citizens of Ukraine. So far, the president has only signed a decree on easing the procedures of acquiring passports for Donbas residents, which is exclusively humanitarian in nature. There are no other details yet," Peskov said.
As concerns residents of Donbas, they would not stop being such on acquiring Russian passports, Peskov said. At present, Donbas residents "are absolutely rejected by their country in terms of social support, in terms of banking services, and in terms of housing and utilities," he said.
"Yes, we've heard the statement by the president-elect [Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky] that Ukraine would, so to speak, encourage and urge these people to return to Ukraine. But how this happens and when is unclear. These people feel absolutely abandoned now, they are experiencing difficulties without certain documents, and possession of Russian passports is something that could make their lives easier," Peskov said.
utin had said on April 27 that Russia might facilitate the issuance of its passports not only to residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine but also to all Ukrainian citizens.
Zelensky said in reply the same day that "firstly, I would not advise the Russian authorities to waste their time trying to lure citizens of Ukraine with Russian passports."
"And part of this mission will be the granting of protection, asylum, and Ukrainian citizenship to all those prepared to fight for freedom. We will provide asylum and assistance to all those who stand ready to fight side by side with us for our and your freedom," Zelensky said.
"Probably there are some people who are still under the influence of propaganda. Maybe someone will do it for the sake of earnings or in an attempt to escape from criminal investigations. We can even provide Vladimir Putin with a list of citizens of Ukraine who will start feeling very uncomfortable in the country, which they cynically robbed, abusing their high posts, in the near future. Let Russia decide again where it needs such 'professionals' more, in Rostov or in Magadan," Zelensky said in a statement spread by his team.
Zelensky also declared his readiness to grant citizenship of Ukraine to Russians who suffer from an authoritarian regime. "We will provide Ukrainian citizenship to representatives of all peoples who suffer from authoritarian and corrupt regimes. First of all, to Russians, who today suffer almost more than everyone," he said.