On Saturday, Putin signed a law stipulating that foreigners who serve in the Russian army can apply for Russian citizenship without presenting a residence permit, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
- The law included foreigners who had signed contracts with the Russian armed forces for at least one year.
- The law exempts them from permanently residing in Russia for 5 years after obtaining a residence permit before applying for citizenship.
Law age conditions
The Russian decision to facilitate the granting of citizenship to fighters in the ranks of the army comes after a number of measures and decisions taken by Putin to support his combat lines in the Ukrainian war, specifically in the battles in southern and eastern Ukraine.
- On September 21, Putin announced the partial military mobilization of the reserve forces, and the number of those included in the decision was estimated at 300,000 soldiers to participate in the war.
- On the same day, the Russian State Duma approved a resolution allowing to facilitate the granting of Russian citizenship to foreign fighters in the Russian army.
- Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced the cooperation of the Migration Center with the Ministry of Defense to simplify obtaining Russian citizenship for foreign fighters who have concluded a contract for at least one year in the army.
- On September 22, there was a heavy demand for flights departing Russia to escape the mobilization decision.
- On September 23, traffic increased across the Finnish border.
- On the same day, 4 regions, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporozhye, eastern and southern Ukraine, are witnessing a referendum to officially join Russia, and the referendums will continue until September 27.
The destination of nationality seekers
In response to a question: Will Russia become a destination for nationality seekers after this decision?
The strategic expert, Brigadier General Samir Ragheb, says that Putin’s decision to amend the granting of citizenship to foreign fighters after completing only one year in the Russian army instead of 3 years, of course, increases the number of foreign fighters joining the ranks of the Russian forces, pointing to the groups that are attracted to join the Russian army.
- The first category relates to foreign fighters and mercenaries who fight for money.
- The second category relates to people fleeing their country and wanting to obtain another nationality, and the risks of war may become less for them than the risks of life in their countries.
What does Putin want?
As for the timing of the law’s amendments, Ragheb explained to “Sky News Arabia” that this political decision coincided with the decision of partial military mobilization in the ranks of the Russian army, with the aim of solving the problem of the number of Russian forces in the Ukraine war, and strengthening the battle lines to annex the remaining territories. In eastern Ukraine, especially since there are 60 percent of Donbass among Ukrainians, the battles require more trained forces.
He adds: “After the referendums in the 4 regions of eastern Ukraine, Putin cannot leave the parts under Ukraine’s control and become Russian occupied territories of Ukrainians for him, so he took the decision to mobilize and the citizenship law for foreign fighters that followed, to confirm that there is no negotiation and no political solution in these areas.”
With this decision, Putin can include conscripts in eastern Ukraine, allowing him to graduate a new batch of 120,000 soldiers by this fall, and by next April he can have 260,000 soldiers mobilized alongside foreign fighters, according to Ragheb.
Who joins the army in exchange for citizenship?
- Regarding the countries that could allow their citizens to join the Russian army, Ragheb points out that the Syrians will become the most joining the Russian forces in return for obtaining citizenship with the approval of the Syrian government, given the Russian-Syrian rapprochement for many years.
- Some Arab citizens join the Russian forces by individual decisions without the consent of their countries, including the Libyans, the Lebanese loyal to Hezbollah, in addition to the Iraqis, specifically the militias, and it is easy for them to leave across the Syrian border.
- Some Arab citizens who are in Russia and have not obtained citizenship, in addition to citizens of African countries where Wagner elements are active, such as Mali and Somalia.
Granting Russian citizenship a year after a person joins the army, puts those who join the Russian forces in the ranks of mercenaries, given that the definition of mercenaries in international law means someone who fights in a cause that is not his case in exchange for financial compensation, whether money or nationality, according to Ragheb, who confirms the criminalization of the law International concept of mercenaries.
According to the Geneva Conventions signed in 1949, who are mercenaries?
- Any person recruited with the aim of fighting in an armed conflict.
- Takes a direct part in hostilities in any military conflict.
- He enters battles with the aim of obtaining a personal loot achievement.
- Every person who is not a member of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict.
- Every person who is neither a national of a party to the conflict nor domiciled in a territory controlled by one of the parties to the conflict.
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