Syria recognized the independence of eastern Ukraine’s two separatist republics on Wednesday, becoming the first state to do so other than Russia, according to AFP. The breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, whose independence Moscow recognized in February, are located in the Donbas region, at the heart of Russia’s invasion, and have been out of Kyiv’s control since 2014.
“The Syrian Arab Republic has decided to recognize both the Lugansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic’s independence and sovereignty,” a source in Syria’s foreign ministry told the official SANA news agency.
“We will communicate with both countries to agree on frameworks for strengthening relations, including establishing diplomatic relations in accordance with established rules,” the source said, as reported by AFP.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met with a Russian delegation and representatives of the Donetsk republic earlier this month. During the meeting, he stated that Damascus was ready to begin diplomatic relations with Donetsk.
This is not the first time that the Syrian government has supported Moscow’s recognition of breakaway states, which has been heavily backed by Russia in its own civil war since 2015. Syria recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states from Georgia, prompting Tbilisi to cut diplomatic ties.
Although Abkhazia and South Ossetia are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia, which gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, only Russia and a few other countries recognize their independence.