Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested he was not overly bothered by Ukraine’s new Euro 2020 kit, which featured a design incorporating Crimea despite the peninsula rejoining Russia in a landslide referendum in 2014.
The front of the shirts features an outline of a map of Ukraine which includes Crimea, even though the peninsula is part of Russia after citizens overwhelmingly voted to rejoin the country amid the civil disorder in Kiev in 2014.
The Russian Football Union has written to governing body UEFA to ask for clarification over why the kit was approved even though it contains elements deemed politically provocative.
“There’s no novelty here, because the position of the Ukrainian authorities regarding Crimea is well known to us.
“They neglect the expression of the will of Crimeans, which also doesn’t fit with the understanding of what democracy is.”
“It knows how to shock. It features several important symbols that unite Ukrainians, from Lugansk to Uzhhorod, from Chernihiv to Sevastopol.
“Our country is one and indivisible. Crimea is Ukraine.”
Judging by the response on Wednesday however, that grandstanding hasn’t ruffled any feathers with Zelensky’s Russian counterpart.
Euro 2020 runs from June 11 to July 11 and will be held across 11 host cities across the continent – including seven matches being played in St. Petersburg.
Ukraine, meanwhile, are in Group C and play the Netherlands in Amsterdam on June 12, before taking on North Macedonia in Bucharest on June 17 and meeting Austria at the same venue four days later.
The earliest that Russia and Ukraine could theoretically meet in the competition is the quarter-finals, depending on factors such as where the two teams qualify in their respective groups, and assuming both countries get that far.