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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a signing ceremony following the talks with his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool

(reuters_tickers)

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The United States embassy in Kiev voiced concern on Sunday over Russia's decision to recognise civil registration documents issued in separatist-held areas of eastern Ukraine, saying that it threatens the Minsk peace process.

The order by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday will enable people from the conflict-hit region to travel, work or study in Russia and drew strong criticism from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

The move is "alarming and contradicts the agreed goals of the Minsk agreements", the U.S. embassy in Ukraine said on Sunday via its official twitter account.

Since the February 2015 Minsk peace agreement Ukraine and Russia have been locked in a stalemate periodically broken by fighting that each side has accused the other of instigating.

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by David Goodman)

Reuters