Ukraine severs diplomatic relations with Syria

Following the Syrian Arab Republic's recognition of the “independence and sovereignty” of the so-called People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that they are breaking diplomatic ties with the country.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine strongly condemns the decision of the Syrian Arab Republic to recognise the so-called ‘independence’ of the temporarily occupied territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine,” reads the statement issued by Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “There is no doubt that the Syrian regime is trying to give pseudo-subjectivity to the Russian occupying administrations in Donetsk and Luhansk at the behest of its Kremlin curators.”

Russia has been heavily involved in propping up the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad following the outbreak of civil war in the country. On the second day of the invasion, Assad called up his fellow dictator Vladimir Putin to express his support for Moscow's assault. On March 1, Syrian Assistant Foreign Minister Ayman Sousan said at a news conference that: “We stand by Russia according to our historic relations and loyalty for what Russia has done for Syria in fighting terrorism.”

Ukraine considers the recognition of the self-proclaimed separatist “republics” as an encroachment on its sovereignty and territorial integrity, moreover a gross violation of Ukrainian law, of the UN Charter, and of fundamental norms and principles of international law. The only other state to recognise the DPR and LPR is Russia. In response, Ukraine has declared the severance of diplomatic relations with Syria, albeit without the severance of consular relations, in accordance with Article 2 of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Ukraine has also initiated the procedure of imposing a trade embargo on Syria as well as other sanctions on Syrian legal entities and individuals.

“Our position is clear – we respond as harshly as possible to any attempts to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and we protect national interests by all available means, including on the diplomatic front,” said Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

As the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted, Ukraine closed the Embassy of Ukraine in Damascus back in 2016 as a result of crimes of the regime of Bashar Al-Assad against the Syrian people. The country further ordered Syria to close its embassy in Ukraine in 2018.

Earlier this week, the UN Human Rights Office noted that 306,887 civilians had been killed in Syria during the conflict since March 2011. This figure, amounting to 1.5 percent of the Syrian population, only counts those killed as a direct result of war operations and not those who died from lack of healthcare or access to food or clean water. Michelle Bachelet, the head of UN HRO, said the detailed report would give a “clearer sense of the severity and scale of the conflict.”