European Union condemns order on issuance of Russian passport to citizens of Donbas

Ukraine's President-elect Vladimir Zelensky

Kurz says Austria is one of the largest investors in Ukraine and therefore is strongly interested in good economic development of the country.

It said it was reiterating its "call for a sustainable, full and permanent cease-fire and its firm support for the work of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, which plays an essential role in reducing tensions on the ground, and in fostering peace, stability and security".

Ukraine's Parliament on Thursday passed a law enforcing the use of the Ukrainian language in official settings, a move likely to rile Russian-speaking areas of the country and Moscow.

The UN's political affairs chief has urged all parties to the peace plan protocol for eastern Ukraine known as the Minsk Agreements, to avoid "any unilateral steps" that could undermine efforts to demilitarize the eastern conflict zone. "Importantly, distributing Russian passports in the occupied territories will make it hardly possible to conduct there legitimate local elections, in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation and relevant OSCE standards under the OSCE/ODIHR monitoring, as envisaged by the Minsk agreements", he added.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre also took a swipe at Russia, saying "the solution to this crisis is not to hand out Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens" but to respect commitments made to end the conflict.

Putin said on Thursday that Moscow was willing to work with Zelenskiy if he implemented the full terms of the 2015 truce agreements, brokered in the Belarus capital Minsk with global support.

"If Kiev implements the Minsk accord, we will seek a normalization of the situation", Putin said. The OSCE monitors the cease-fires. The legislation, making Ukrainian mandatory for civil servants, soldiers, doctors, and teachers, was championed by outgoing President Petro Poroshenko.

Putin has rejected global criticism about his decision, telling reporters that objections to the decree were "strange".

Speaking to reporters at the end of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Putin said Poland, Romania and Hungary grant citizenship to their ethnic kin outside their borders and he saw no reason why Russian Federation could not do the same. Pro-Russian separatists living in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions declared independence, in a move not recognized by the global community, including Turkey.

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