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In the last few days Russian president Vladimir Putin has been publicly considering offering fast-track passports to Ukrainian citizens. Some sources quote concerns that the Russian government could eventually use these newly acquired citizens as a reason for military intervention. Since this problem may have occured before in history, my question is as follows:

Is it legal unter international law to distribute passports among citizens of another country?

If it is not, are there restrictions as to who is eligible for passports?

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Any country can certainly decide who it should grant citizenship status to. There is no international rule that I know of requiring that the recipient be currently a resident of the country granting citizenship. Any country may issue passports to its citizens.

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  • China's reaction to the United Kingdom's granting favorable immigration treatment to people from Hong Kong is a counterexample. – phoog Feb 8 at 5:53
  • @phoog That isn't a rule of international law, that is an attempt at international pressure. Countries have always felt free to pressure others to do things, if they had power enough. – David Siegel Feb 8 at 6:06
  • As I understand it, the UK undertook a treaty obligation not to give those people British citizenship or any other status conferring a right of abode in the UK. If that understanding is correct then the UK is not, as a matter of international law, free to decide who it should grant citizenship to. – phoog Feb 8 at 6:40
  • Having looked into it a bit, I haven't found any explicit written undertaking to that effect, in which case it is indeed more of a case of diplomatic pressure than of international law. But I only scanned the Sino-British Joint Declaration without researching any of the background, so it was a fairly superficial investigation. – phoog Feb 8 at 18:13

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