Ukraine crisis: Fifa to suspend Russia as IOC calls for athletes’ suspension

Source: BBC

Football’s world governing body Fifa is set to suspend Russia until further notice – as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommends that Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials are banned from any organised international competitions.

Fifa’s suspension would mean Russia’s exclusion from the men’s World Cup qualification play-offs in March.

The IOC has urged sport governing bodies not to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete because of a “breach of the Olympic Truce” by those countries’ governments.

It comes after Russia, supported by Belarus, launched a military invasion of neighbouring Ukraine last Thursday.

Fifa had earlier ruled that Russia must complete their upcoming games in neutral territory, under the title Football Union of Russia, and without their flag and anthem.

However, the announcement drew criticism – and Scotland and the Republic of Ireland joined several other nations, including England and Wales, as well as Poland, the Czech Republic and Sweden, in refusing to play against Russia.

On Monday, Scottish FA president Rod Petrie wrote to his Ukrainian counterpart “to send a message of support, friendship and unity”, with those two nations due to meet in their World Cup play-off semi-final on 24 March.

Russia are scheduled to face Poland in the play-offs on the same day, followed by a final meeting with the Czech Republic or Sweden on 29 March, should they win.

Russia’s women are also set to compete at the Women’s Euro 2022 in England in July where they are in a group with the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.

The 2022 Champions League final, originally due to be played in St Petersburg on 28 May, has been moved to Paris while numerous clubs have taken their own steps to disassociate themselves from Russia.

Manchester United has terminated its sponsorship deal with Russia’s national airline Aeroflot while Bundesliga club Schalke has cancelled its partnership with main sponsor Gazprom – the official partner of the Uefa Champions League – having last week removed the Russian energy company’s logo from its shirts.

RB Leipzig chief executive officer Oliver Mintzlaff says the German club are assuming their Europa League last-16 tie against Russian side Spartak Moscow will be cancelled.

Leipzig are due to host Spartak on Thursday 10 March, with the second leg scheduled to take place on 17 March.

Speaking on Monday, Tottenham manager Antonio Conte said: “The whole world has to be compact and show [it is] solid against the stupidity of the people.”

He added: “I think it’s right to express our disappointment about the stupidity about some decisions. Football and Uefa has to be compact and to show to be strong.”

Bans needed to protect integrity of global sport – IOC

The International Paralympic Committee is to meet on Wednesday to discuss Russia, just two days before the start of the Beijing Winter Paralympic Games.

The IOC says it is urging sport governing bodies to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes “in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants”, adding that “the current war in Ukraine puts the Olympic Movement in a dilemma”.

“While athletes from Russia and Belarus would be able to continue to participate in sports events, many athletes from Ukraine are prevented from doing so because of the attack on their country,” an IOC statement read.

However, the IOC said wherever it was not possible to ban them from competing for organisational or legal reasons, such athletes should not compete under the name Russia or Belarus and should be classed as neutrals.

The Russian Olympic Committee has disagreed with the IOC, saying the decision “contradicts both the regulatory documents of the IOC and the [Olympic] Charter”.

‘I have to fight for my country’

Badminton’s world governing body (BWF) responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by announcing the cancellation of all tournaments in Russia and Belarus in addition to banning the national flags and anthems of the two nations.

“BWF will continue to monitor the situation closely and will proactively consult our international sport movement partners to discuss other options to potentially strengthen measures against the governments of Russia and Belarus,” it said.

The Ukrainian Tennis Federation has called on the sport’s governing body, the International Tennis Federation (ITF), to expel Russia and Belarus from the organisation and ban Russia from individual and team tournaments.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, who became the ATP’s world number one on Monday, said he wanted to promote “peace all over the world” in a news conference on Friday during the Mexican Open.

The ITF said: “This is a fast-evolving situation; we are in active discussion with the ITF tennis family and the ITF board to decide and align around our next course of action.”

At the Fencing World Cup in Cairo on Sunday, Ukraine’s men’s foil team refused to fence against Russia.

Ukraine’s Klod Younes told BBC Radio 5 Live that he and his team-mates now intend to return home and defend their country.

“I knew before the competition [that I would not fence against them]. I told my team-mates and they supported me and said they would do the same,” Younes said.

“Today we are going to try to re-book our ticket and we will try to go to Poland, to Hungary, and then we will figure out what to do.”

On whether he and his team-mates will fight if necessary, he added: “Of course. This is our country. This is my country. I have to fight for it. I am defending my territory.”

Ukrainians head home ready to die for their country

Source: BBC

In Przemyśl on the Polish-Ukrainian border, women and children are arriving on foot with only the belongings they can carry – leaving husbands, fathers, brothers and sons behind to fight.

But there also is a steady stream of men aged under 45 walking in the opposite direction into Ukraine to defend their country. They are mostly Ukrainian men living abroad, and we’ve been told of some coming from as far afield as Canada.

I meet a man waiting for a train to Ukraine.

He says: “I was a corporal in the army. From 2017 I’ve been working here in Poland. I must go back now quickly for the war. I am from the army, that’s why I must go back.”

I ask him if he is frightened and he says: “No, I’m not scared because I’m going to defend my country. I’ve earned money here. But this is my country, my land. I must defend it. I must go back and I must defend my country.”

I ask him if he’s prepared to die and he replies: “Yes, for my country I’m prepared to die.”

Outrage at treatment of Nigerians at Poland border

Source: BBC

As thousands flee the crisis, Nigeria’s government has condemned reports that its citizens, and those from other African countries, have been prevented from leaving war-torn Ukraine.

We’ve heard from Isaac, a Nigerian man living in Ukraine who’s been trying to gain entry into Poland. He says border staff told him they were “not tending to Africans”.

There have also been reports of Ukrainian security officials preventing Africans from catching buses and trains going to the border.

On Sunday Nigeria’s Foreign Minister Geofrey Onyeama said he had spoken with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba and had been assured that Ukrainian border guards had been given an order to allow all foreigners leaving Ukraine to pass without restrictions.

Will Nato send troops to help Ukraine?

Source: BBC

Tim Mepham from Brighton asks: “At what point will the countries of Nato agree enough is enough and put boots on the ground to support Ukraine?”

Nato countries and allies are watching Russia’s every move, warning that their defensive military alliance will do everything to defend “every inch” of their territory.

They’ve sent weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, and trained Ukrainian soldiers in recent years – indeed right up to the Russian invasion.

But they’ve repeatedly said there will be no Nato “boots on the ground” because Ukraine is not a Nato member.

However, this changes if Russia moves beyond Ukraine into a Nato country.

Article 5 of Nato’s constitution states that “an attack against one ally is considered an attack against all allies”.

If that happens, the world moves into uncharted territory and there’s a dangerous possibility of a Nato-Russia confrontation.

Russia bans flights from airlines in 36 countries

Source: BBC

A quick news update for you now as Russia has announced it is banning flights from airlines in 36 countries, including the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and Canada.

It follows a decision by the EU to ban “Russian-owned, Russian-registered or Russian-controlled aircraft” from its airspace.

The UK also banned Aeroflot flights from landing in Britain, prompting Russia to announce an earlier retaliatory ban on British airlines.

Petrol prices hit record high in UK

Source: BBC

Surges in global oil prices prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are being felt at the petrol pump in the UK.



The average price of petrol jumped to £1.51 a litre on Sunday, the RAC said, while diesel rose to £1.55.



Russia is the second-biggest exporter of crude oil, and while only 6% of UK imports come from Russia, there are concerns sanctions could restrict supplies worldwide and drive up prices.

Queues at cash points as sanctions start to hit Russia

Source: BBC

The Kremlin does not want the Russian people to think that these sanctions are going to bite, even though international experts are saying that they will, and deeply too.



We are seeing some effects already today – the rouble fell to a record low, we’ve learned that the stock exchange is not going to open and Russia’s central bank has more than doubled its key interest rate.



Nevertheless, the Kremlin has reiterated that Russia was expecting these sanctions and it has prepared for them.



Beneath that of course there is going to be concern in the Kremlin, and Vladimir Putin is going to meet economic advisers today.



People are of course going to start noticing a difference. Already there have been queues at cash points, with people predicting perhaps even a run on banks.



Presumably in the coming days people will see the value of their savings start to fall, perhaps job losses – all that comes with such unprecedented sanctions.



Russia kills dozens in Kharkiv shelling, Ukraine officials say

Source: BBC

Dozens of civilians have been killed and hundreds more injured during heavy Russian shelling of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, Ukrainian officials say.



Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to Kyiv’s interior minister, wrote on Facebook that Moscow’s troops had bombarded residential areas with Grad missiles, saying: “Dozens have been killed and hundreds wounded!
“The whole world must see this horror! Death to the occupiers!”



It is not possible at this stage to say exactly how many civilians have been killed so far. The UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet said earlier today that at least 102 civilians had been killed, with a further 304 people injured.



“Most of these civilians were killed by explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multi-launch rocket systems, and air strikes. The real figures are, I fear, considerably higher,” Bachlet said.

Ukraine asks for ceasefire in talks with Russia

Source: BBC

  1. Negotiators for Kyiv and Moscow are holding talks in Belarus but expectations are not high
  2. Before the meeting, President Zelensky urged Russian troops to lay down their weapons and called for immediate EU membership
  3. On the fifth day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, people in Kyiv are emerging from their homes after a weekend-long curfew
  4. Russia doubles its interest rate to 20% as its currency plunges and experts warn of a possible run on banks
  5. The UK’s defence secretary says Russia could indiscriminately bomb cities as frustration with the campaign grows
  6. The north-eastern city of Chernihiv faced heavy shelling overnight, but remains in Ukrainian hands
  7. Reports suggest Belarus – a close Russian ally to Ukraine’s north – is going to deploy its own soldiers to fight

Ukraine invasion: EU shuts airspace to Russian planes

Source: BBC


The EU has imposed a blanket flight ban on Russian planes, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has announced.

“We are shutting down EU airspace for Russian-owned, Russian-registered or Russian-controlled aircraft,” she said.



All such planes, including the private jets of oligarchs, will now be unable to land in, take off from or fly over any EU nation.

Russian planes have also been banned from UK airspace.

Russia’s biggest airline, Aeroflot, said it would cancel all flights to European destinations until further notice in a retaliatory move on Sunday.



Ahead of the decision, European countries had been closing their airspace one by one. Germany said its ban would last three months.

Departure boards at Moscow’s Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo airports showed dozens of cancellations on Sunday, including flights to Paris, Vienna and Kaliningrad.



Russia’s S7 Airlines said on Facebook it would cancel flights to many of its European destinations until at least 13 March.

Russia has been responding with tit-for-tat restrictions on countries banning its flights.



The Commission president said that the EU was also going to ban Russia’s state-owned news outlets Sputnik and Russia Today, widely seen as a mouthpiece for the Kremlin. “We are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe,” she said.



The restrictions on flights will require Russian airlines to take circuitous routes, resulting in longer flight times.

Commercial airlines are also avoiding airspace around Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus following Russia’s invasion.



In the US, Delta Air Lines said it would suspend a flight booking agreement with Russia’s Aeroflot.




The UK’s ban on Russian flights led Moscow to retaliate with a similar curb on British planes.



Virgin Atlantic said avoiding Russia would add between 15 minutes and an hour to its flights between the UK and India and Pakistan.



Australian airline Qantas said it would use a longer route for its direct flight between Darwin and London that does not overfly Russia.