Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Wednesday that will allow Ukrainian residents to apply for Russian passports more quickly. It concerns the population living in the Russian-occupied areas of southern Ukraine, such as (parts of) Zaporizhia and Kherson provinces.
The decree is an extension of the already existing scheme that allows residents of the pro-Russian regions of Luhansk and Donetsk to obtain a Russian passport. This procedure has been around since 2019.
It seems unlikely that many Ukrainians in Zaporizhzhya and Kherson will benefit from this scheme. For example, Kherson fiercely resisted the Russian army and the province was temporarily retaken from Russian troops.
For Zaporizhzhya, the time of issuance of the decree is even harsher: the city in the southeast of the country was bombed by missiles on Wednesday morning. The regional government talks about four Russian ballistic missiles fired at the city, one of which disabled the air defenses.
It was not clear yet the extent of the damage and whether there were casualties. Rescue services are available on site, the regional government reports on Telegram. Zaporizhzhia is located more than 200 kilometers northwest of the Russian-occupied port city of Mariupol.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, a factory where engines were produced was damaged. The military says it bombed this plant, so that the engines could no longer be used in military planes or drones. The ministry also said it bombed a nearby train station to stop the transport of Ukrainian troops. These claims cannot be independently verified.
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