This paper examines the Russian migration and citizenship regime as encountered by forced migrants from Ukraine who fled to Russia during the period of 2014–2016. Based on legal and other official documents, media articles, and interviews, it gives an account of these migrants’ reception in Russia in theory and practice. Russia made great efforts to accommodate them, and in Russian media they were often spoken of as an easily integrated labor resource and as potential citizens. In 2015–2016, around 165,000 Ukrainians acquired Russian citizenship. While ethno-cultural similarity does privilege Ukrainian migrants in Russia, full asylum has been granted sparingly, and citizenship is not unconditionally granted. As this paper shows, Russian authorities have rather tried to control and distribute these forced migrants for the benefit of the state, according to principles of selectivity and economic interests – giving privileged access to permanent residency and citizenship to working-age people willing to settle in regions where population growth and more workers are deemed necessary. However, permanent residency and citizenship are also available to those able to circumvent or pay their way through the obstacles encountered – taking advantage of the flexibility inherent in a system that is not totally consistent.
Marthe Handå Myhre, Forced migrant “compatriots” from Ukraine: Accessing legal residency and citizenship in the Russian Federation, Nationalities Papers, 2018