West Asian governments react to Ukraine conflict
While most West Asian officials urged restraint between Kiev and Moscow, Israel and Turkey openly denounced Russia's military incursion
By News Desk - February 24 2022

Donetsk residents celebrate recognition of their independence by Russia on 21 February, 2022. (Photo Credit: Alexander Ryumin/TASS)

In response to the latest outbreak of fighting between Russia and Ukraine, a number of West Asian government officials chimed in with differing views on the crisis.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said in a 24 February Tweet that “The Ukraine crisis is rooted in NATO’s provocations,” adding that the solution lay in an “imperative to establish ceasefire & to fin a political and democratic resolution.”

Syria supported and backed the independence of the republics of Lugansk and Donetsk. Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said on 21 February that Damascus “supports President Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognize the republics of Luhansk and Donetsk and will cooperate with them.”

On that same day, a high-ranking official and spokesman of the Ansarallah-led government of Yemen similarly declared his nation’s support of the newly-independent republics. In a 21 February tweet, Muhammad Ali al-Houthi said that “We support the recognition of Donetsk and Lugansk as independent republics,” adding that “we call for restraint and not to slip into a war intended to drain Russian capabilities.”

Meanwhile, Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani called upon both parties to “exercise restraint” on 24 February, following a phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

The statement from the Qatari Emir’s office added that “Sheikh Tamim also called the protection of civilians and the prioritization of the humanitarian situation.”

The Emir’s statement comes two days after Doha received a letter by Russian President Vladimir Putin, emphasizing the need to strengthen bilateral ties.

Turkey, a NATO ally, sided with Ukraine over Russia, denouncing Moscow’s launch of a defensive military operation in the region of Donbass.

In a televised address, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara “reject[s] Russia’s military operation,” as a “heavy blow to regional peace and stability.”

Also denouncing Russia and siding with NATO, Israel made its first stance on the conflict public on 24 February, when Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that “the Russian attack on Ukraine is a violation of the world order and Israel condemns it.”

In a televised address on 24 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special operation” in Donbass.

His decision came just three days after recognizing the independence of the newly-formed republics of Luhansk and Donestk on 21 February, two provinces formerly part of Ukraine that lie on the border with Russia.

Part of the larger Donbass area, the new republics formed part of a territory whose population is overwhelmingly supportive of Russia, and whose support has rendered them the subject of shelling attacks from the Ukrainian Army since 2014.

Residents of the Donbass region have been facing attacks by Ukraine following a US-backed coup that deposed the former government and installed a NATO-friendly regime.

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