What Happened: Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Russian State Duma, has accused the United States of influencing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s decision to facilitate the process of obtaining Ukrainian citizenship for Russian nationals who have faced persecution, Tass reported Aug. 13.
Why It Matters: Moves to grant citizenship and offer passports have quickly become one of the most significant points of contention between Ukraine and Russia since Zelenskiy assumed office, further undermining the prospects of ending the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Background: Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on April 24 to make it easier for residents of eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions to obtain Russian passports and citizenship. Zelenskiy then signed an order on Aug. 13 to facilitate the process of granting Ukrainian citizenship to Russian citizens who have faced persecution for political beliefs in Russia.
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