A communal worker looks at a shelling hole at a site of a rocket hit in downtown Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Saturday. Kharkiv and surrounding areas have been the target of heavy shelling since February when Russian troops entered Ukraine. Photo by Sergey Kozlov/EPA-EFE
Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed a decree stating that the government would give money to Ukrainians who fled the war to Russia.
The decree, published on the Kremlin's website, establishes a monthly pension of about $165 to Ukrainians "forced to leave the territories" of the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces of Ukraine, which together make up the larger Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.
Donbas has been largely held by pro-Russian separatists since the Ukrainian territory of Crimea was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014. Putin recognized Luhansk and Donetsk as independent republics before the start of the invasion Feb. 24 and is expected to try to annex the region into Russia in coming months.
The payment decree indicates that Ukrainians eligible for the monthly pension must have left Ukraine and entered Russia after Feb. 18 and payments will be made through December.
Putin also said that people with disabilities will also receive a monthly stipend of about $165 and World War II veterans will get about $82 monthly.
Pregnant women who fled the war will receive an additional one-time payment of about $165 and another $331 at the birth of their child, Putin said. Each child who fled Ukraine will receive $66.
Putin signed another decree that granted Ukrainian citizens who are fingerprinted, photographed, medically examined and drug tested by Russia the right to temporarily stay and work in the country without a permit while fleeing the war.
The decrees were signed despite Russia reportedly failing to pay military reservists and volunteer units fighting in Ukraine as well as Russian laborers brought into occupied regions.
Last month, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, an international security organization with observer status at the United Nations, released a report on its ongoing investigation into alleged human rights violations in Ukraine carried out by Russian forces.
The report found two new "alarming phenomena" in Ukraine including the establishment and use of so-called filtration camps and the tendency of Russian troops to hand over detained people to Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region, who then impose the death penalty after illegal trials.
"Mass forcible transfers of civilians during a conflict to the territory of the occupying party are prohibited under the 1949 Geneva Conventions," the report noted. "The practice is considered a war crime."
Data from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees shows that more than 2.3 million Ukrainian refugees have been reported to have fled to Russia since the start of the war.