The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided not to recognize passports issued by Russia to residents of Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts after April 24 unless the passport holder was previously already a Russian citizen.
The decision is effective immediately, the ministry announced on Monday.
According to Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa), this decision came in response to a decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in April according to which residents of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts were to be granted Russian citizenship under a simplified procedure.
Estonia is the first EU member state to take this step. Worldwide, Canada was the first country to adopt a similar stance with regard to Russian passports being issued in Ukraine.
"Granting Russian citizenship via simplified procedure to residents of Eastern Ukraine is an additional attempt to undermine Ukraine's independence and perpetuate the current unstable security situation in Eastern Ukraine," Reinsalu said. "This is fundamentally at odds with the spirit of the Minsk Agreements. Estonia's latest decision expresses our essential condemnation of such efforts by Russia."
The foreign minister had raised the passport issue with his European colleagues at the Foreign Affairs Council in May. On June 20, the European Council expressed grave concerns regarding the matter, as well as willingness to consider not recognizing these Russian passports.
"I believe that other EU member states and the entire international community will soon follow in adopting similar decisions," Reinsalu said. "Our obligation is to continue actively supporting Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Estonia has previously decided not to recognize Russian passports issued to residents of Crimea and Sevastopol after March 18, 2014 unless the holder of the passport was already a citizen of the Russian Federation.
Editor: Aili Vahtla