Russian President Vladimir Putin says Ukrainians and Russians would benefit from having a shared citizenship.
"We have a lot in common. I've been saying this many times that Ukrainians and Russians are brotherly nations. And even more so, I think it's one nation with their own peculiarities: cultural, linguistic, historical... But practically the same nation," Putin said in a video comment published by Russia's state-owned Tass agency.
"If we manage to have a shared citizenship, both Russians and Ukrainians would benefit from that," Putin said adding that he hopes he will achieve this shared citizenship with Ukraine's President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
This comes days after Zelenskiy addressed Putin in a Facebook post. He criticized Putin for trying to "seduce Ukrainians with Russian passports" after the Russian president simplified the passport issuing procedure for the Ukrainians residing in occupied Donbas on April 24. Putin later stated that he is considering opening up this eased procedure to all Ukrainians, not just the residents of the Donbas.
"We will issue Ukrainian citizenships to all those nations who suffer from authoritarian and corrupt regimes. First of all, the Russians who probably suffer the most," Zelenskiy responded to Putin in a Facebook post late on April 27.
Over 13,000 have died in Ukraine's Donbas region since the war broke out there that has been fuelled by the Kremlin financially and militarily.
Putin hailed Zelenskiy's response suggesting that the president-elect's plan will bring Ukraine and Russia closer.
"Very good," Putin is quoted by Tass as saying on April 29. "If they issue Russians with citizenships in Ukraine and we [issue] Ukrainians [with citizenships] in Russia, we will soon reach a shared goal... We will have the shared citizenship."
/By Maria Romanenko