The Russian operator has divested its entire operations in Ukraine, as political tensions between the two countries continue to simmer

Russian mobile network operator, MTS, has revealed that it has sold its Ukrainian operations to Azeri telco Backcell, for a reported $734 million. 

MTS is Russia’s biggest mobile network operator and the company said that it had made the decision to divest its Ukrainian assets in a bid to refocus on growing its domestic portfolio in Russia. 

Relations between Kiev and Moscow are still at a historic low, after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and the subsequent Donbass Conflict that has erupted in Ukraine ever since. 

A year later, in 2015, MTS rebranded its Ukrainian assets as Vodafone Ukraine. Vodafone Ukraine remains the second largest mobile network operator in the country, behind VEON’s Kyivstar. 

MTS said that the sale would have a minimal impact on its financial performance this year.

“Given the small share of our Ukrainian operations in our overall business, we reaffirm our commitment to fulfilling our updated dividend policy and continuing to generate attractive returns for our shareholders,” MTS’ chief executive, Alexey Kornya, told journalists from Reuters.

Backcell has 3 million mobile and fixed line broadband customers in Azerbaijan, while Vodafone Ukraine (MTS) has over 23 million subscribers in Ukraine. 

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