DAMASCUS (AP) – Syria
announced Wednesday that it was cutting ties with Ukraine in support of its close ally Russia, saying the move was a response to a similar move by Kiev.
“The Syrian Arab Republic has decided to break diplomatic relations with Ukraine in conformity with the principle of reciprocity and in response to the decision of the Ukrainian government,” a foreign ministry official, who was not identified, told the state news agency SANA.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky already announced he was severing ties with Syria late last month after Syria recognized the Russian-backed breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.
“There will no longer be relations between Ukraine and Syria,” Zelensky said at the time.
The breakaway states of Donetsk and Lugansk, whose independence Moscow recognized in February, are situated in the Donbas region at the center of Russia’s operation in Ukraine which was launched on February 24.
Syria was the first country apart from Russia to recognize their independence.
The government of President Bashar Assad, who has relied heavily on Russian support in his country’s decade-old foreign-backed war, had already recognized two other Russian-sponsored breakaway republics in 2018.
Donetsk and Luhansk were turned into self-proclaimed republics by ethnic Russians in 2014. The declaration of independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, following a referendum in May, led to a bloody conflict between the Ukrainian troops and pro-Russia forces.
Earlier, Crimea had declared independence from Ukraine, voting in a referendum to fall under Russian sovereignty in March 2014.