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US blasts Putin over citizenship to "Russia-controlled" E. Ukraine residents

WASHINGTON, April 25 (KUNA) -- The US condemned Wednesday the decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide "expedited Russian citizenship to Ukrainians living in Russia-controlled eastern Ukraine." State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that "Russia, through this highly provocative action, is intensifying its assault on Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity." "President Putin's decision creates a serious obstacle to the implementation of the Minsk agreements and the reintegration of the Donbas region," she stressed. "The Minsk agreements, signed by Russia, call for the full restoration of Ukrainian government control over eastern Ukraine." She added that this comes just three days after the Ukrainian people "overwhelmingly" elected Volodymyr Zelenskyy the next president of Ukraine, where he has "repeatedly expressed his readiness to engage seriously with Russia to implement the Minsk agreements and to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine." "It is now up to Russia to decide whether it wants to continue to escalate tensions or meet its Minsk commitments," the statement concluded. (end) si.mt