TALLINN - The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday made the decision to not recognize the passports issued by the Russian Federation to the residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in Eastern Ukraine after April 24, 2019, if the user of the passport was previously not a Russian citizen, the decision enters into force immediately.
Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said that the step is a response to the regulation signed by the Russian President Vlaldimir Putin in April that allows the expedited granting of Russian citizenship to the residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
"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. "Today's decision by Estonia reflects our fundamental condemnation of Russia's ambitions of this nature," he added.
The Estonian Foreign Minister raised the subject of issuing expedited passports at the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union in May. On June 20, the European Council expressed grave concern on the issue and its readiness to consider the non-recognition of the Russian passports in question.
"I believe that other member states of the European Union and the international community in general will soon make similar decisions. It is our duty to continue to actively support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," he said.
Estonia has previously decided not to recognize the passports of the Russian Federation issued in Crimea and Sevastopol to local residents after March 18, 2014, if the user of the passport was previously not a Russian citizen.
Estonia, along with many other member states, stressed to the European Commission that there was a need to develop European Union guidelines on this issue, and today's decision is based on July's guidance. The decision of non-recognition is within the competence of each European Union member state. Estonia processes the visa applications of Russian citizens according to European Union Visa Code and the EU-Russian Visa Facilitation Agreement.