The United States today condemned Russia's decision to introduce a simplified procedure for issuing Russian passports to residents of southern Ukrainian areas under Russian control, describing it as an attempt to subjugate the population, AFP reported.

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The plan is "Russia's tactic of subjugating the Ukrainian people - to impose its will by force," said State Department spokesman Ned Price, adding that the United States "strongly rejects" such plans.

Russian President Vladimir Putin today signed a decree facilitating the granting of Russian citizenship and obtaining Russian passports from residents of Ukraine's Kherson and Zaporizhia regions occupied by Russia.

The United States has accused Russia of wanting to annex two pro-Russian territories in eastern Ukraine

This is another step towards "Russification" of the two regions, DPA notes.

By bringing these two Ukrainian regions under its control, Moscow has established a land link between the pro-Russian separatist republics in eastern Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed in 2014.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine