The Russian Interior Ministry said that “in line with the law, more than 80,000 people received passports and are citizens of the Russian Federation”.

    Even before the invasion of Ukraine in February, Russia had already distributed thousands of Russian passports in the separatist zones in eastern Ukraine. Since the war, Moscow has also made it easier for Ukrainians to obtain Russian nationality.

    Observers believe Russia wants to bolster its claim to Ukrainian lands by pointing to the proportion of Russian citizens living there.