KYIV: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday cut off diplomatic relations between Kiev and Moscow in response to Russia’s invasion of its Western-backed neighbor.
It marked the first rupture in ties since Russia and Ukraine became independent countries after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
“We broke off diplomatic relations with Russia,” Zelensky said in a video message.
Ukraine and Russia maintained ties throughout a complex history of relations that included two pro-Western revolutions in Kyiv in 2004 and 2014 that the Kremlin strongly opposed.
Analysts said Kyiv was keen to keep diplomatic channels with Moscow open because it needed to provide consular and other assistance to nearly three million Ukrainians living in Russia.
Zelensky’s decision came hours after Putin launched a full-scale offensive that included air strikes and ground incursions on Ukraine’s northern and southern borders.