DAMASCUS: Syria announced Wednesday that it was severing ties with Ukraine in support of its close ally Russia, saying the move was a 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 and in response to the decision of the Ukrainian government,” a foreign ministry official, who was not identified, told the state news agency SANA.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky already announced he was severing ties with Syria late last month after Syria recognized the Russian-backed breakaway republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.

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

The breakaway states of Donetsk and Lugansk, whose independence Moscow recognized in February, are situated in the Donbas region at the center of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which was launched on February 24.

Syria was the first country apart from Russia to recognize their independence.

The government of President Bashar Assad, who has relied heavily on Russian support in his country’s decade-old civil war, had already recognized two other Russian-sponsored breakaway republics in 2018.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia are internationally recognized as part of Georgia, which gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, but Russia and a handful of other countries recognize their independence.