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?

1 Answer 1


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.

  • China's reaction to the United Kingdom's granting favorable immigration treatment to people from Hong Kong is a counterexample.
    – phoog
    Feb 8, 2021 at 5:53
  • 2
    @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. Feb 8, 2021 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, 2021 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, 2021 at 18:13

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