Middle East countries divided on Russian annexation of eastern Ukraine

Middle East countries divided on Russian annexation of eastern Ukraine
Turkey has strongly condemned Russian President Putin's annexation of Ukraine and Iran has invited all sides to 'exercise restraint', while Syria and Yemen's Houthi's voiced support for the Kremlin's latest move.
2 min read
22 February, 2022
Russian President Putin's recognised eastern Ukraine's rebel territories Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics [Getty]

Middle East countries are divided on Russia's annexation of eastern Ukraine's rebel territories Donetsk and Luhansk, with fears Moscow is poised to invade Kyiv and the rest of Ukraine.

Russian President Putin on Monday said Moscow would formally recognise parts of eastern Ukraine as independent republics and ordered his military to "maintain peace" there, widely viewed as an order for an invasion.

The move has been strongly condemned by Turkey, while Iran has invited "all sides to exercise restraint".

Jordan is reportedly concerned about the repercussions of the potential conflict. 

Putin's move has gathered support from Syria - a staunch Russian ally - and Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE are yet to release a statement on the latest European developments.

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"We see this decision by Russia as unacceptable. We repeat our call for common sense and respect for international law by all sides," Turkish President Erdogan told reporters, Reuters reported.

"Iran... believes any action that could escalate tensions should be avoided," Iran's foreign ministry tweeted on Tuesday, as they stated their spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh called on all parties to resolve disagreements within a peaceful framework. 

Jordan is reportedly concerned about how a potential war might affect it given the rapidly rising energy and wheat prices and the kingdom's reliance on international imports, a government official told The New Arab's Arabic language service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The Syrian regime, which is backed by Russia in its war against opposition groups, quickly welcomed Putin's move, which has led to a sharp escalation in tensions between the West and Russia.

"Syria supports President Vladimir Putin's decision to recognise the republics of Luhansk and Donetsk,"  Syrian state TV quoted Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad as saying.

Russia and the Syrian regime have previously voiced opposition to any perceived division of Syria, regarding the opposition and Turkish-backed rebel territories in the north and US-supported Kurdish and Arab tribal control of eastern Syria. Both sides have said that the Syrian regime is entitled to reclaim these territories by force.

Yemen's Houthi rebels have also shown support for the Kremlin's decision, calling for "restraint and not to slip into a war intended to drain Russian capabilities".

The Iran-backed Houthis have controlled the capital Sanaa and northern Yemen since 2014 and 2015, fighting a bloody war with the Saudi-backed government.