President Vladimir Putin has issued an order to accelerate Russian citizenship for residents of parts of southern Ukraine largely controlled by his troops. In contrast, lawmakers in Moscow have passed a law to bolster Russia’s sprawling military.
Putin’s decree, which applies to the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions, could allow Russia to strengthen its grip on territory between eastern Ukraine, where Moscow-backed separatists occupy some areas, and the Crimean peninsula, which Russia conquered in 2014.
The Russian military is in an intense battle for Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, known as the Donbas. As a sign that the Kremlin is trying to bolster its stretched-out military machine, Russian lawmakers agreed to remove the 40-year age limit for individuals signing their first voluntary military contracts.
A description of the bill on the parliament’s website indicated that senior recruits may operate precision weapons or serve in technical or medical positions. The chairman of the defense committee of the Russian parliament, Andrei Kartapolov, said the measure would make hiring people with “in-demand” skills easier.
Russian authorities have said that only contract volunteer soldiers will be sent to Ukraine to fight. However, they have acknowledged that some conscripts were inadvertently involved in the fighting in the early stages of the war.
Three months after the Russian invasion of the neighboring country, Putin visited a military hospital in Moscow on Wednesday and met some wounded soldiers in Ukraine, the Kremlin said in a statement on its website.
The event marked the Russian leader’s first publicly known visit with soldiers fighting in Ukraine since he launched the war on February 24.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy had visited wounded soldiers, civilians, and children, including when Russian troops fought on the outskirts of Kyiv.
Zelenskiy reiterated on Wednesday that he would be willing to negotiate directly with Putin but said Moscow must withdraw from the positions it held before the invasion and show that it is ready to “move from the bloody war to diplomacy.” “.
“I believe it would be the right move for Russia to make,” Zelenskiy told leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, via video link.
“”Ukraine will fight until it has recaptured all its territories,” Zelenskiy said. He also said Ukraine wants to drive Russian troops out of all conquered areas. “It’s about our independence and our sovereignty.”
Russia already had a program to expedite the naturalization of people living in Luhansk and Donetsk. These Ukraine’s two eastern provinces make up the Donbas, where the Moscow-backed separatists hold large areas as independent republics.
But Ukraine says it is not ready to relinquish control of Russian-occupied areas to reach some Weste, rn lobbyists are pushing Kyiv to do so.