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.”

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.

Ukraine invasion: Would Putin press the nuclear button?

Source: BBC

Let me begin with an admission. So many times, I’ve thought: “Putin would never do this.” Then he goes and does it.

 

“He’d never annex Crimea, surely?” He did.

“He’d never start a war in the Donbas.” He did.

“He’d never launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.” He has.

I’ve concluded that the phrase “would never do” doesn’t apply to Vladimir Putin.

 

And that raises an uncomfortable question:

“He’d never press the nuclear button first. Would he?”

It’s not a theoretical question. Russia’s leader has just put his country’s nuclear forces on “special” alert, complaining of “aggressive statements” over Ukraine by Nato leaders.

Listen closely to what President Putin has been saying. Last Thursday when he announced on TV his “special military operation” (in reality, a full-scale invasion of Ukraine), he delivered a chilling warning:

 

“To anyone who would consider interfering from the outside – if you do, you will face consequences greater than any you have faced in history.”

“Putin’s words sound like a direct threat of nuclear war,” believes Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov, chief editor of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

“In that TV address, Putin wasn’t acting like the master of the Kremlin, but the master of the planet; in the same way the owner of a flash car shows off by twirling his keyring round his finger, Putin was twirling the nuclear button. He’s said many times: if there is no Russia, why do we need the planet? No one paid any attention. But this is a threat that if Russia isn’t treated as he wants, then everything will be destroyed.”

 

Mr Putin, pictured watching a missile launch in 2005, could resort to more desperate measures if his war in Ukraine is perceived to be failing

In a 2018 documentary, President Putin commented that “…if someone decides to annihilate Russia, we have the legal right to respond. Yes, it will be a catastrophe for humanity and for the world. But I’m a citizen of Russia and its head of state. Why do we need a world without Russia in it?”

Fast forward to 2022. Putin has launched a full-scale war against Ukraine, but the Ukrainian armed forces are putting up stiff resistance; Western nations have – to the Kremlin’s surprise – united to impose potentially crippling economic and financial sanctions against Moscow. The very existence of the Putin system may have been put in doubt.

“Putin’s in a tight spot,” believes Moscow-based defence analyst Pavel Felgenhauer. “He doesn’t have many options left, once the West freezes the assets of the Russian Central bank and Russia’s financial system actually implodes. That will make the system unworkable.

“One option for him is to cut gas supplies to Europe, hoping that will make the Europeans climb down. Another option is to explode a nuclear weapon somewhere over the North Sea between Britain and Denmark and see what happens.”

If Vladimir Putin did choose a nuclear option, would anyone in his close circle try to dissuade him? Or stop him?

“Russia’s political elites are never with the people,” says Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov. “They always take the side of the ruler.”

And in Vladimir Putin’s Russia the ruler is all-powerful. This is a country with few checks and balances; it’s the Kremlin that calls the shots.

“No one is ready to stand up to Putin,” says Pavel Felgenhauer. “We’re in a dangerous spot.”

The war in Ukraine is Vladimir Putin’s war. If the Kremlin leader achieves his military aims, Ukraine’s future as a sovereign nation will be in doubt. If he is perceived to be failing and suffers heavy casualties, the fear is that could prompt the Kremlin to adopt more desperate measures.

 

Especially if “would never do” no longer applies.

Ghanaian students in Ukraine to be transported to Poland

The leadership of Ghanaian students in Ukraine have set plans in motion to transport their members to Poland for safety.

 

The President of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) in Ternopil City, Richard Ofori, said Ghanaian students in the region, numbering about 250, are expected to be safely transported by Tuesday.

 

“Buses have been booked for tomorrow (Saturday) and Tuesday to transport students to Poland, about 200 to 250 Ghanaian students. We had to make the decision ourselves,” Richard said.

 

He said this on the back of a recent attack launched on Ukraine by Russia. Following this development, Ghanaian students in the region have sent home appeals for them to be evacuated.

 

Government in response has asked them to seek safe places of abode in the interim, while it works to ensure their safety in the country.

 

In a statement announcing this, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said it is doing its best to guarantee the wellbeing of Ghanaians.

 

“The Government of Ghana is gravely concerned about the security and safety of our over 1,000 students and other Ghanaians in Ukraine as we engage the authorities, our relevant diplomatic missions, and our honorary consul on further measures,” it said.

 

The students, however, have taken up the task of ensuring their safety. Richard said, “our national executives [NUGS] in Ghana on Tuesday spoke to some officials in Ghana, but we are also trying to be proactive from this side.”

 

He also noted that they have a 15-day ultimatum to make plans and exit Poland.
“In Poland, we heard we have a Maximum of 15 days to be there so within that 15 days we have to make plans and book tickets and fly out of the country,” he said.

 

Richard added that students are still living in fear.
“As of now I have been in touch with only a couple of guys on the Eastern side and most of them are scared and panicking,” he said.

 

“There is also a limit on cash withdrawals from some ATMs, so I started withdrawing yesterday, and I got just a small percentage of my money. Banks and shops have closed, a friend of mine told me there are queues at the various ATMs. The drivers are not even working,” he added.

 

Background
Russian President Vladimir Putin has launched an unprecedented attack on Ukraine. The move comes after Putin ordered troops into two pro-Russian, breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine on Monday.

 

There have been multiple reports of explosions, bombings, and Russian Military vehicles entering Ukraine from various parts of the border with Russia, with a growing number of casualties being counted on both sides.
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