In a possible attempt to solidify the gains made by Russia in Ukraine as well as an attempt at demoralization, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved on Monday a degree that allows Ukrainians to have a fast-tracked push to be recognized as Russian citizens.

The decree, which simplifies the naturalization process of Ukrainians to become Russian citizens, was already in effect for the breakaway territories of Ukraine in the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic since May, according to Reuters.

It was also implemented in the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, with the stated aim of “liberating” the regions from the rule of the government in Kyiv.

Now, however, the decree, which gives Russian citizenship to Ukrainians without having to have lived in Russia or have enough funds to immigrate or pass a language test in the country, has been expanded by Putin to the whole of Ukraine, stirring criticism from around the world for the action, al-Jazeera reported.

“The mentioned decree is another encroachment on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, incompatible with the norms and principles of international law,” Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said. “Ukrainians do not need Putin’s citizenship and attempts to impose it by force are doomed to failure.”

The decree has been called an attempt by Putin to “Russify” the two regions, and many analysts believe that he may be using it as a way of solidifying his gain in the country as well as a way of seizing control of the territories that they do have.

Kyiv criticized the decree when it was first given out in May, calling it a violation of international law and the sovereignty of Ukraine.

“The illegal issuing of passports … is a flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as norms and principles of international humanitarian law,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in May.

Over 700,000 people in the Russia-held areas have availed of the fast-tracked citizenship, equating to around 18 percent of the local population.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree allowing all Ukrainians to have a sped-up path to citizenship, in what is being criticized as an attempt at "Russification" of the occupied Ukrainian states. Contributor/Getty Images.

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