In a seemingly planned move, Syria has decided to recognize the independence and sovereignty of both the Ukrainian breakaway states, the Luhansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic, according to an official source in the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reports Syrian media outlets Alekhbariya and AlMayadeen. This comes not long after Leonid Pasichnyk, the head of the self-declared separatist Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), claimed that on June 16th “Syria and a number of other countries” are ready to recognize “the independence” of the Russian-occupied Donbas territories. He didn’t clarify which other countries were reportedly ready to recognize the states. Before this new recognition by Syria, Russia was still the only other nation in the world to recognize the LPR and DPR as legitimate states, making the decision on February 21st, only a few days before Russia plunged invasion forces from Belarus and Russia into Ukrainian territories.
Other nations have voiced support for the recognition of the states, but only Syria has done so in writing. These supporters include countries aligned with Russia’s worldview such as Belarus, the Central African Republic, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Venezuela under the Maduro regime. The Russian-aligned breakaway Georgian states of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have also recognized the DPR/LPR, but these states are generally considered Russian-occupied, by both the world and specifically Georgia itself, after it lost control of the territories in the aftermath of the Russo-Georgian War. Interestingly, Artsakh, the Armenian breakaway state located behind Azerbaijani borders, also recognizes the independence of the LPR/DPR, citing the right to self-determination. Whether the DPR/LPR have “self”-determined their position is up to debate for many in the international community, who see continuous Russian military, civil, and economic support from 2014 as a disqualifier for this classification, a similar situation to Russia’s relationship with South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Notably, Kazakhstan, a post-Soviet state often aligned with Russia, has opted not to recognize the LPR/DPR. The Kazakh government, despite being protected by the Kremlin, also turned down Putin’s request to send troops to Ukraine in late February. Kazakh President Tokayev has stated that he would abide by international law and not recognize the quasi-states Russia seeks to create in Ukraine to delegitimize Ukrainian sovereignty. However, Tokayev also stated he would not recognize Taiwan, effectively showing how Central Asia has leaned more toward Beijing as Russia’s grip on the region fades.
This also comes as Turkey is seemingly ramping up operations in Syria, targeting Kurdish people and militias. Following a tripartite agreement between Finland, Sweden, and Turkey, which allowed the two former nations a greenlight into NATO by Turkey (who holds power in being able to veto membership in the security collective), Turkey is now also emboldened to continue striking and attacking the autonomous Kurdish region. This is important because Russia plays a vital role in Syrian security operations, and as Turkish forces continue to move into Northern Syria, a confrontation could arise or tensions could brew. The two Nordic nations had agreed to crack down on groups that Turkey deems national security threats, including the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and its Syrian extension. It said they also agreed “not to impose embargo restrictions in the field of defense industry” on Turkey and to take “concrete steps on the extradition of terrorist criminals.” Ankara has demanded that Finland and Sweden extradite wanted individuals and lift arms restrictions imposed after Turkey’s 2019 military incursion into northeast Syria. In turn, Turkey agreed “to support at the 2022 Madrid Summit the invitation of Finland and Sweden to become members of NATO.” However, Stockholm and Helsinki don’t agree that all the groups on Ankara’s list are terrorists. For example, all three regard the PKK as terrorists, but only Turkey sees the Syria-based Kurdish groups, the YPG and PYD, as terrorists.
Here is a full transcript of that agreement:
1. Today the representatives of Turkiye, Finland and Sweden, under the
auspices of the NATO Secretary General, have agreed the following.
2. NATO is an Alliance based on the principles of collective defense and the
indivisibility of security, as well as on common values. Turkiye, Finland and
Sweden affirm their adherence to the principles and values enshrined in the
3. One of the key elements of the Alliance is unwavering solidarity and
cooperation in the fight against terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations,
which constitutes a direct threat to the national security of Allies as well as
to international peace and security.
4. As prospective NATO Allies, Finland and Sweden extend their full support
to Turkiye against threats to its national security. To that effect, Finland and
Sweden will not provide support to YPG/PYD, and the organization
described as FETO in Turkiye. Turkiye also extends its full support to
Finland and Sweden against threats to their national security. Finland and
Sweden reject and condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, in
the strongest terms. Finland and Sweden unambiguously condemn all
terrorist organizations perpetrating attacks against Turkiye, and express
their deepest solidarity with Turkiye and the families of the victims.
5. Finland and Sweden confirm that the PKK is a proscribed terrorist
organization. Finland and Sweden commit to prevent activities of the PKK
and all other terrorist organizations and their extensions, as well as activities
by individuals in affiliated and inspired groups or networks linked to these
terrorist organizations. Turkiye, Finland and Sweden have agreed to step up
cooperation to prevent the activities of these terrorist groups. Finland and
Sweden reject the goals of these terrorist organizations.
6. Further to this, Finland refers to several recent amendments of its Criminal
Code by which new acts have been enacted as punishable terrorist crimes.
The latest amendments entered into force on 1 January 2022, by which the
scope of participation in the activity of a terrorist group has been widened.
At the same time, public incitement related to terrorist offenses was
criminalized as a separate offense. Sweden confirms that a new, tougher,
Terrorist Offenses Act enters into force on 1 July, and that the government
is preparing further tightening of counter-terrorism legislation.
7. Turkiye, Finland and Sweden confirm that now there are no national arms
embargoes in place between them. Sweden is changing its national
regulatory framework for arms exports in relation to NATO Allies. In future,
defense exports from Finland and Sweden will be conducted in line with
Alliance solidarity and in accordance with the letter and spirit of article 3 of
the Washington Treaty.
8. Today, Turkiye, Finland and Sweden commit to the following concrete steps:
• Establish a joint, structured dialogue and cooperation mechanism at
all levels of government, including between law enforcement and
intelligence agencies, to enhance cooperation on counter-terrorism,
organized crime, and other common challenges as they so decide.
• Finland and Sweden will conduct the fight against terrorism with
determination, resolve, and in accordance with the provisions of the
relevant NATO documents and policies, and will take all required
steps to tighten further domestic legislation to this end.
• Finland and Sweden will address Turkiye’s pending deportation or
extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly,
taking into account information, evidence and intelligence provided by
Turkiye, and establish necessary bilateral legal frameworks to
facilitate extradition and security cooperation with Turkiye, in
accordance with the European Convention on Extradition.
• Finland and Sweden will investigate and interdict any financing and
recruitment activities of the PKK and all other terrorist organisations
and their extensions, as well affiliates or inspired groups or networks
as outlined in paragraph 5.
• Turkiye, Finland and Sweden commit to fight disinformation, and
prevent their domestic laws from being abused for the benefit or
promotion of terrorist organizations, including through activities that
incite violence against Turkiye.
• Finland and Sweden will ensure that their respective national
regulatory frameworks for arms exports enable new commitments to
Allies and reflects their status as NATO members.
• Finland and Sweden commit to support the fullest possible
involvement of Turkiye and other non-EU Allies in the existing and
prospective initiatives of the European Union’s Common Security and
Defence Policy, including Turkiye’s participation in the PESCO Project
on Military Mobility.
9. For the implementation of these steps, Turkiye, Finland and Sweden will
establish a Permanent Joint Mechanism, with the participation of experts
from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs , Interior, and Justice, as well as
Intelligence Services and Security Institutions. The Permanent Joint
Mechanism will be open for others to join.
10. Turkiye confirms its long-standing support for NATO’s Open Door policy,
and agrees to support at The 2022 Madrid Summit the invitation of Finland
and Sweden to become members of NATO”