According to local reports, President Bashar al-Assad told a Russian parliamentary delegation in December 2021, which also included representatives from Donetsk, that Syria wants to establish relations with the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk.
Fast forward to June 2022, the Foreign Ministry of Syria declared that Damascus officially recognized the independence and sovereignty of the Republics and communications will be held with both countries to agree on frameworks for enhancing relations, including establishing diplomatic relations in accordance with the well-known rules.
The Ukrainian side was of course furious with the recognition and hence President Zelenskyy announced severing ties with Syria. But the question is: what ties Zelenskyy’s government had with Syria? As far as I know, Ukraine had already severed ties with Syria in 2016 after Damascus recognized the Crimean Peninsula as part of Russia and Syria even sold its embassy in Kiev.
More recently, Zelenskyy falsely accused Damascus of sending mercenaries to fight with Russian forces in Ukraine, then he opened Ukraine’s embassy in Doha for Islamists with the so-called revolution flag under which countless Syrians were decapitated and burned in ovens, and women were stoned to death.
But from the Syrian perspective, why is Syria meddling in the Ukraine issue? First, because Russia is a strategic ally of Syria and if Moscow wins the proxy war and its political and military positions are strengthened in the international arena, then it is also a win for Syria which has been hit by a brutal regime change war by the United States and other NATO member states. Secondly, Syria perceives Russia’s growing power as a restoration of an international balance of power, which will positively affect smaller countries, such as Syria, that are in the middle of an ongoing war launched by NATO member states.
On a more interest level, Damascus will benefit from the wheat, grains and agricultural materials that Donetsk vows to export to Syria. Now, one may ask: why a country like Syria which is rich with wheat and agricultural products needs to import them? Well, because the United States occupies one-third of Syria which is the richest in wheat, grains, and oil, and also imposes draconian sanctions on the people.
So, starving millions of Syrians have consequences, eh?
Kevork Almassian is an award-winning political commentator from Syria. He is the founder of Syriana Analysis and is known for his contribution to the literature on the Syrian war.