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Russian Senator Denies Automatic Citizenship for Babies in Occupied Ukraine

Children eat ice-cream at a park in Kherson, Kherson region, south Ukraine. AP Photo / TASS

This story has been recast to add the denial from Moscow.

A Russian senator has denied that children born in Moscow-occupied Ukraine will automatically receive Russian passports.

Officials in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions' pro-Moscow military-civilian administrations had claimed earlier Thursday that babies born there after Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine would automatically be given Russian citizenship.

“There is no such rule in the law on citizenship. But this issue will need to be resolved,” said Andrei Klishas, head of the upper-house Federation Council's Constitution and State Affairs Committee, on the Telegram messaging app.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree “simplifying” the citizenship process for Ukrainians in occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, as well as the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions, on May 25.

A top Kremlin official also promised Russian passports for Kherson residents on a recent visit earlier this month, the first of which were handed out over the weekend.

The fast-tracked citizenship drive has sparked widespread speculation that Russia hopes to annex the areas of Ukraine it has seized during its almost four-month invasion.

On Tuesday, the United Nations warned Moscow against the forced adoption of Ukrainian children who had been taken to Russia since the February invasion.

In the recently captured city of Mariupol, separatist leaders of the pro-Russia Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) issued the first DNR birth certificate to a two-month-old baby.

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