MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian authorities on Saturday (Feb 18) to temporarily recognise civil registration documents issued in separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine, a decision strongly criticised by Ukraine's president.
The decision will enable people from the conflict-hit region to travel, work or study in Russia.
According to Putin's order, published on the Kremlin website, Russia will temporarily recognise identity documents, diplomas, birth and marriage certificates and vehicle registration plates issued in the eastern Ukraine regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The legislation will be in place until a "political settlement of the situation" in these regions based on the Minsk peace accords, the Kremlin said.
Ukrainian authorities sharply criticised Putin's decision, saying Russia had violated the Minsk peace process.
"For me, this is another proof of Russian occupation as well as Russian violation of international law," Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko told reporters in Munich, Germany.
"This step completely negates the Minsk process," said Oleksander Turchynov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, which is headed by Poroshenko.
Fighting has recently escalated in the conflict between the Ukrainian government and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, refocusing global attention on a simmering conflict that has strained relations between Russia and the West.
The February 2015 Minsk peace agreement only locked the two sides into a stalemate that has been broken periodically by sharp resurgences of fighting that Kiev and the Kremlin accuse each other of instigating.
The foreign ministers of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine met on Saturday in Munich and agreed to use their influence to implement a ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Monday in eastern Ukraine.