Ukrainians to be forced to sell property in Crimea as new Russian law forbids all foreigners from owning land on country’s border

After a decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin last year, foreigners are now banned from owning land in most areas of Crimea. Kiev has called the move “legally null and void,” promising to return plots in the future.

Crimea was reabsorbed into Russia in March 2014, following a referendum. The vote is unrecognized by Ukraine and most of the world, with the majority of nations viewing the peninsula as illegally occupied by Moscow.

The new law means Ukrainian citizens living in Crimea will no longer be able to own land unless they have a Russian passport. According to Aleksey Reznikov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister, about 2.5 million Crimeans have already received documents from Moscow since 2014.

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According to the new law, non-citizens will not be able to own land in 19 of the 25 Crimean municipalities. The decree expands upon legislation passed in 2011, which prohibited foreigners from owning property in Russia’s border regions. The areas now falling under restrictions in Crimea also sit on the Russian border.

The rules also note that foreigners must transfer their rights to the land within one year, or it will be forcibly sold.

In response, Kiev blasted the decree as “null and void,” with the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s press secretary saying that “the violated rights of the legal owners of the land plots” would be reversed once Ukrainian sovereignty over the peninsula “is restored.”

Last week, Putin revealed that private investment in the economy of Crimea in the next four years should exceed 1 trillion rubles by 2025, with large-scale projects helping to ensure their “significant” and “dramatic growth.”

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According to the Crimean authorities, as of April 2020, citizens from 55 foreign countries own land on the peninsula. While most of them are Ukrainians, people from Belarus, Germany, Israel and Australia also have plots.

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