Syria breaks relations with Ukraine in reciprocity after recognizing Donetsk and Lugansk independence

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Syrian authorities announced Wednesday the severance of diplomatic relations with Ukraine, nearly three weeks after Kiev did the same in response to Damascus’ decision to recognize the independence the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, located in the Donbas region (east).

Syrian Foreign Ministry sources quoted by the Syrian state news agency, SANA, have indicated that the decision has been taken “in line with the principle of reciprocity and in response to the Ukrainian government’s decision in this regard,” while stressing that Damascus considers relations to have been broken since 2018.

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Thus, they have stated that in this year Ukraine “refused to renew residence visas for Syrian diplomats working at the Syrian Embassy in Kiev, which made it impossible for them to carry out their functions.” “The Embassy suspended its functions as a result of the hostile attitudes of the Ukrainian government,” they have reiterated.

Relations between Ukraine and Syria have been strained since 2016, when Kiev ordered to close its Embassy in Damascus and, two years later, to do the same with the Syrian Embassy in Ukraine. Since that time, the Ukrainian diplomatic legation in Lebanon has been protecting the interests of Ukrainian citizens in Syria.

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Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky announced at the end of June the severance of diplomatic relations and argued that “Russia has forced Syria to launch the message about the alleged recognition of the occupation structures in the Donbas as alleged states.” He also said that “the pressure of sanctions against Syria will be even greater”.

After the start of the invasion of Ukraine, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stressed that the offensive was a “correction of history” and said that Moscow “is not only defending itself, but defending the world and the principles of justice and humanity.”

Russia is one of the Syrian president’s main international supporters and its military intervention in 2015 enabled government forces to repel rebel advances and take back the initiative on the battlefield.

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