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Russia said today it had issued Russian passports to more than 80,000 residents of four Ukrainian regions it announced earlier this fall it was annexing to its territory, something not recognized by the international community, AFP reported.

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"Following the accession of the four regions to the Russian Federation and in accordance with the law, more than 80,000 people have received passports of citizens of the Russian Federation," the Russian Interior Ministry said.

In September, Russia held polls that Western countries denounced as pseudo-referendums aimed at annexing the Ukrainian regions it controls - Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, as well as Zaporozhye and Kherson regions in southern Ukraine.

The EU does not recognize passports issued in Ukrainian territories annexed by Russia

The annexations, approved by Moscow in early October, were strongly condemned by the international community and remain unrecognized.

However, after their announcement, Russian forces suffered defeats and the Ukrainian army managed to regain control of some territories, including the city of Kherson, from where the Russians withdrew.

Even before the start of the offensive against Ukraine in February, Moscow had issued hundreds of thousands of Russian passports in the separatist regions of eastern Ukraine.

Since the start of the attack on Ukraine, the Kremlin has also made it easier for Ukrainians to obtain Russian citizenship.

Observers believe that Russia is using this strategy to strengthen its claims to areas in Ukraine that it claims are populated by newly-acquired Russian citizens, BTA writes.

The European Parliament today approved a decision not to recognize passports and other travel documents issued by Russia in the illegally occupied parts of Ukraine and Georgia.

The decision was voted with 531 votes "for", seven "against" and 34 "abstentions".

The European Commission is expected to draw up a list of Russian travel documents, especially passports, which should not be accepted in the EU.

Citizens fleeing Ukraine will be able to enter the EU for humanitarian reasons, the EP said in a statement.

To enter into force, the decision is subject to further approval by the Council of the EU.

Russia has been issuing passports to residents of Crimea since its illegal seizure of the peninsula in 2014, and is taking similar actions in other areas of Ukraine.

The non-acceptance of these Russian passports will apply when a Russian passport holder from these areas applies for an EU visa, or when crossing the external European borders, the EP clarified.

EC data were cited, according to which almost all EU countries have already declared that they do not accept such Russian passports.

The aim of the proposal adopted today is to achieve a coherent and consistent approach.

Russian invasion of Ukraine