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The decree may grant Ukrainian citizenship to international combatants and members of the country's diaspora.

The decree may grant Ukrainian citizenship to international combatants and members of the country’s diaspora.

On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared a decree that may provide Ukrainian citizenship to non-citizens who are currently engaged in combat against Russia in Ukraine.

On Monday, the legislation was proposed in honor of Ukraine’s Day of Unity, which marks the merging of western and eastern regions in 1919. Throughout its extensive past, this region has experienced many invasions.

In 2022, numerous foreigners hurried to Ukraine to support the nation’s troops in the face of a Russian invasion.

In a social media post, Zelenskyy expressed that the foreign volunteers who have picked up weapons to protect Ukraine and those who are fighting for its freedom as if it were their own country will eventually see Ukraine as their home.

Zelenskyy stated that the proposed legislation would officially permit individuals of Ukrainian ethnicity and their offspring from any location to obtain dual citizenship, except for those from Russia.

“Amid a major war, those who boldly declared ‘I am Ukrainian’ are not defined by their place of residence, birth or passport. They are true Ukrainians at heart and have demonstrated their loyalty to the country. It is time for them to officially become Ukrainian citizens after years of waiting,” he stated.

If the Ukrainian parliament approves the decree, it would circumvent the country’s constitution which does not permit Ukrainian citizens to have dual citizenship. As a result, countless individuals with Ukrainian ancestry living abroad have been unable to possess Ukrainian passports thus far.

Assuming Ukrainian lawmakers approve and the constitutional court authorizes the decree, the process should take approximately one year.

The executive order also mandated a course of action to safeguard the cultural heritage of approximately 4 million Ukrainian individuals residing in Russia, the largest Ukrainian diaspora community globally.

Zelenskyy stated that the decree would aid in reestablishing the accurate account of Ukraine’s history for the betterment of its future. It also aims to combat Russian disinformation, which seeks to weaken the ethnic identity of Ukrainians residing in Russia.

The Day of Unity was established as an official holiday in Ukraine in 1999.

The idea to mark the Day of Unity appeared almost a decade before that, when the country was still part of what was then the Soviet Union. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians joined together on January 21, 1990, to form a live chain connecting Kyiv, the capital, with several other nearby cities in a show of unity and nationalism.

This report includes information from Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service.