The Syrian foreign ministry says its decision to break with Kyiv was in accordance to the ‘principle of reciprocity’.

Syria, a close ally of Russia, has announced it is formally breaking diplomatic ties with Ukraine in response to a similar move by Kyiv.

“The Syrian Arab Republic has decided to break diplomatic relations with Ukraine in conformity with the principle of reciprocity,” a Syrian foreign ministry statement said on Wednesday.

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Credit: Creative Commons

Late last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Kyiv would cut ties after Syria recognised the Russian-backed breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

“There will no longer be relations between Ukraine and Syria,” Zelenskyy said at the time.

The Syrian foreign ministry said Ukraine had first ruptured relations in 2018 by refusing to revalidate the residencies of its diplomatic staff in Kyiv, making it impossible for them to carry out their duties.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, right, meets with Russian lawmaker Dmitry Sablin, who visits Syria as part of a large Russian delegation that includes the foreign minister for the breakaway pro-Russian area in Ukraine, the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic”, in Damascus, Syria, June 14, 2022. Syria said Wednesday, July 20, 2022, that it is formally breaking diplomatic ties with Ukraine in response to a similar move by Kyiv. Syria is a strong ally of Russia, which joined Syria’s conflict in September 2015 in favor of President Bashar Assad. (AP Photo/Omar Sanadiki, File)

It added that the Syrian embassy at that time suspended its duties “as a result of the hostile attitudes of the Ukrainian government.”

Wednesday’s announcement comes as Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad meets Iranian officials in Tehran, a day after a summit between the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey in the Iranian capital.

In only his second trip abroad since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Russian President Putin discussed the conflict in Syria with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Russia-Syria ties

Moscow and Damascus grew closer after Putin intervened in Syria’s civil war to help tip the balance of power in favour of President Bashar al-Assad.

In turn, Assad’s government in 2018 sided with Russia to recognise two Russian-sponsored breakaway republics, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are internationally recognised as part of Georgia.

Syria has also recognised the independence of the breakaway states in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, again in contrast to the international community.

In April, analysts told Al Jazeera that Russia was attempting to attract Syrian fighters to Ukraine to join its forces.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES