More than 100,000 of Crimean residents have requested Russian passports from the Federal Migration Service divisions, Moscow says.
“Over 40,000 passports have been issued” for the Crimeans until now, Federal Migration Service press secretary Zalina Kornilova said on Friday.
Konstantin Romodanovsky, the head of the service, had earlier announced that Russian passports would be issued for two million residents of the Black Sea peninsula.
Meanwhile, Russia’s defense minister said that more than 8,000 Ukrainian soldiers, who were stationed in Crimea, have asked for permission to join the Russian army.
Sergei Shoigu said they applied to become Russian servicemen while they were allowed to leave for mainland Ukraine.
“As of today, more than 8,000 have applied for Russian passports,” Shoigu said, adding that nearly 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers have already joined the Russian army.
Last week, Ukrainian troops in Crimea handed over their bases to Russian forces.
Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17 and formally applied to become part of Russia. This came on the heels of a referendum a day earlier, in which 96.8 percent of Crimeans voted for reunion with Russia.
On March 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law documents that officially made the Black Sea peninsula part of the Russian territory despite condemnation from the West and the new Ukrainian government.
The move sparked angry reactions from the United States and the European Union, both imposing punitive measures against a number of Russian officials and authorities in Crimea.