Russia Says Ukraine Crisis Won't Impact 2018 World Cup

Russia Says Ukraine Crisis Won't Impact 2018 World Cup

Russia hosts the 2018 World Cup, and Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko insists that the conflict in Ukraine will not impact preparations. He also said that security should not be an issue.

“It’s a different subject and it will not influence preparations for the World Cup at all,” Mutko said when he unveiled Russia’s $20 billion plan for the tournament. “Sometimes you have to suffer some criticism. Criticism is important. It’s stimulating, it’s constructive.”

Russia spent over $90 billion for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. One of the stadiums will be located in the sub-tropic resort town, Rostov-on-Don. Sochi and Rostov-on-Don are located near the Caucasus Mountains, which is home to radical Muslims from Chechnya. In October and December 2013, three people detonated bombs in Volgograd; two blew up buses and another exploded in the train station.

Rostov-on-Don is only 100 miles away from Donetsk, Ukraine. This region broke off in May and is under control of the pro-Russian forces. The self-proclaimed prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic is Alexander Borodai, a Russian citizen from Moscow. It is also a city where Putin stationed numerous troops and NATO found satellite images that show Russian troops from Rostov-on-Don moved into Ukraine.

Russia was named in the World Cup scandal involving Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid. The Sunday Times said documents revealed the two countries met numerous times before each received their respective bids and specifically names Mutko. From The Sunday Times:

Emails show that Russia invited [Qatar committee member Mohomed] Bin Hammam to a summit to discuss “bilateral relations” in sport between their two countries on October 30, 2010, a month before the vote on the bids. Two days later, Qatar’s ruling emir also flew to Moscow for talks about joint gas production deals between the two countries.

The leaked correspondence shows that Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s Exco member and 2018 bid chairman, hailed Bin Hammam’s meeting with Putin as “a chance to further promote bilateral relations between our nations in the areas of sport”.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Brazil, which is hosting the 2014 World Cup. The final is on Sunday, and Germany will play against Argentina for the title. At the game, Brazil President Dilma Rousseff and FIFA President Sepp Blatter will present the World Cup in a ceremony.

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko will attend the final game, along with other world leaders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, one of the few Western leaders who talks to Putin on an almost regular basis, is one of the leaders. As of Saturday, the Kremlin said there are not any plans for Putin to meet with Poroshenko, but it could happen.

“We are not preparing any separate meetings. As far as we know, he is going there too,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “There will be some separate room for leaders at the stadium, and therefore one of course cannot rule it (meeting) out,” he said on the sidelines of a meeting between Putin and Argentina’s president.”

Rousseff will host a lunch with the world leaders, which includes Poroshenko — if he arrives on time. Brazil’s foreign ministry spokesman told the Associated Press he could say where Putin, Poroshenko, and Merkel will be seated.