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Russia's Ukraine passport move aimed to destabilize, exacerbate conflict: EU

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Russia’s decision to ease the granting of Russian citizenship to people living in separatist regions of Ukraine is another attack by Moscow on Ukrainian sovereignty, the European Union said on Thursday, calling on Russian to stop such actions.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order on Wednesday simplifying the procedure for obtaining a Russian passport for residents of separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, prompting calls from Kiev for more international sanctions.

“The signature by President Putin ... is another attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty by Russia,” the spokesperson for the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

“The timing ... shows Russia’s intention to further destabilize Ukraine and to exacerbate the conflict. We expect Russia to refrain from actions that are against the Minsk agreements and impede the full reintegration of the non-Government controlled areas into Ukraine,” it said.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Alastair Macdonald