The Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria on Tuesday lent support to Russia over its move to recognize Ukraine’s breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states. 

Faisal Mekdad, the regime’s foreign minister, said they will cooperate with the separatist governments recognized by Russia, according to SANA, the Syrian state news agency.

“What the West does against Russia today is similar to what it did to Syria during the terror war. The US and Western countries continue to support terrorism in Syria that threatens the Middle East and the world,” SANA quoted Mekdad as saying.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Russia’s recognition of the regions in a speech on Monday in which he also attacked Ukraine’s government and the US and accused the West of ignoring Moscow’s core security concerns.

Along with Russia’s military buildup, tensions have recently risen dramatically in eastern Ukraine, with reports of a growing number of cease-fire violations, multiple shelling incidents, and the evacuation of civilians from the pro-Russian separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The US and its European allies have said that Russia is setting the stage to invade Ukraine after having amassed over 100,000 troops and heavy equipment in and around its neighbor.

Russia has denied that it is preparing to invade and instead accuses Western countries of undermining its security through NATO’s expansion toward its borders.

In 2014, Moscow began supporting separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained since then. The conflict has taken more than 13,000 lives, according to the UN.  

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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