Could UEFA Help Russia Legitimize Crimean Annexation?

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Could UEFA Help Russia Legitimize Crimean Annexation?
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Could UEFA Help Russia Legitimize Crimean Annexation? by EurasiaNet.org

Russia is hoping football can become an instrument that it can use to help legitimize its annexation of Crimea a year ago today.

Russian troops invaded Crimea in late February 2014 in response to the Euromaidan Revolution in Kyiv. Pro-Russian Crimean authorities signed an annexation pact with Russia on March 18, 2014, to formalize the first forceful change of a European border since the end of the Second World War. The European Union and the United States do not formally recognize Russia’s land grab, and have imposed economic sanctions on Russia to punish its aggressive actions.

But EurasiaNet.org has learned that Russia is trying to use “the beautiful game” to poke a hole in the EU’s non-recognition stance. Specifically, Russia is pressing UEFA, the European governing body for football, to recognize Crimea as an entity apart from Ukraine. UEFA is expected to make a decision on the matter in late March. If UEFA officials go along with Russia’s preference, it could establish a precedent that the Kremlin could use to steadily erode the EU’s non-recognition resolve, and drive a wedge between Europe and the United States on the issue.

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