Ukraine furious over Russian citizenship decree targeting separatists

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The head of Canada's 160-strong delegation that helped monitor recent Ukraine elections said Wednesday that Ottawa should strengthen ties with the Eastern European country.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin urged Ukrainian citizens in the Russian-occupied regions not to apply for Russian passports.

The conflict between the Ukrainian government and breakaway rebels began after Moscow annexed Kiev's Crimea peninsula in 2014.

President-elect Zelensky, a comedian who has played the role of President in a Russian-language drama but until now has had no political experience, often speaks in Russian. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

"This decree is not bringing us closer to achieving the ultimate goal: a cease-fire", it said.

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Ukraine's outgoing President Petro Poroshenko also slammed the decision, calling it "Russia's unprecedented interference in the internal affairs of an independent state". In Kiev it's being seen another step towards eventual Russian annexation. Both men may have triumphed on negative votes, glaringly so in Mr Zelenskiy's case because people were fed up with Mr Poroshenko's promise to stamp out corruption, which never happened.

His press service said in a statement that Kiev is 'counting on increased diplomatic and sanctions pressure on the Russian Federation'. It's the sort of wording we've become used to seeing in the last five years from Ukraine. Poroshenko has suggested the inexperienced Zelensky would be a dream come true for Vladimir Putin.

Iryna Gersaschenko, the deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, noted the timing of the announcement.

Zelenskiy also needs lawmakers to pass legislation that matters to the International Monetary Fund, Ukraine's most important foreign backer, such as a bill to criminalize illegal enrichment.

Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia pointed out that Kiev has not made any moves to implement any of the provisions of the Minsk agreements - citing specifically items 7 and 8 of the February 2015 protocol, providing for safe access and delivery of humanitarian aid and restoring social and economic connections between the two regions and the rest of Ukraine. He called for immediate action.

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