MOSCOW: Russia said on Wednesday (Jun 9) it had complained to European football governing body UEFA over Ukraine's new national team shirt which is emblazoned with a map including Crimea and words from a military slogan.
Russia considers the peninsula part of its territory and annexed it in 2014, but Crimea remains internationally recognised as part of Ukraine.
Russian officials view the kit as provocation, while Ukraine says it symbolises national unity. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Wednesday posted a selfie on Instagram of him in the jersey, which will feature in the upcoming European Championship.
"The Russian Football Union has appealed to UEFA to receive explanations," TASS quoted Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin as saying. "We have expressed our concern about the Ukrainian national team's kit."
The front of the yellow jersey shows the borders of Ukraine in white. A slogan at the top of the back reads "Glory to Ukraine!" while inside the shirt are the words: "Glory to the heroes!"
In Ukraine, those phrases are a military greeting.
Asked how he felt about Ukraine's new kit, Russia's President Vladimir Putin was dismissive. "There is no novelty in that. We know very well the position of Ukraine's authorities on Crimea. They ignore the will of the people, the will of the Crimeans," he said in televised comments.
Ukrainian manager Andriy Shevchenko, the former Chelsea striker, told reporters this week that he did not care about the Russian reaction. "I'm interested in our reaction. I think our fans liked our uniform, so I'm pleased," he said.
Relations between Moscow and Kyiv deteriorated sharply after the annexation of Crimea and the start of a Russian-backed separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine in 2014.
Ukraine play their opening Euro 2020 match against the Netherlands on Jun 13 in Amsterdam, and also face Austria and North Macedonia in Group C.
Russia take on Belgium, the world's top-ranked team, in their opener on home turf in St Petersburg on Jun 12, before facing Denmark and Finland.