Kyiv can’t pay pensions to people in the Luhansk and Donetsk occupied territories because of lack of funds, declared Russian and separatist media this week. Ukraina.ru, Regnum, Donetskoye Agentstvo Novostey and others all cite Larysa Tolstykina, the so-called Labor and Social Policy minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, who claims that Ukraine lacks the money to pay out pensions.

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Despite multi-billion tranches from their European partners, Ukraine has no money. Of course they can’t admit this, but they can refuse to pay pensions people are entitled to, Tolstykina said.

According to a Council of Europe resolution, under international law, the Russian Federation which exercises de facto control over the occupied territories is responsible for the protection of their populations.

Kyiv has continued paying pensions and other social benefits to its citizens despite the occupation, a salient detail that Tolstykina conveniently chose to ignore. Ukrainian authorities have established a special mechanism for pension payments, retirees must travel to Ukraine every two months to receive their pension payments from Ukrainian banks. According to Ukraine’s Minister for Social Policy , Oleksander Reva, some 570,000 pensioners receive their retiree benefits in this manner.

As for those pensioners who for various reasons cannot leave the occupied territories, Ukrainian authorities are considering different ways of disbursing those benefits. Currently Ukraine has no means of paying benefits directly in the occupied territories.