Boris Johnson warned as he vowed to swiftly introduce the “first barrage” of UK sanctions against Russia after Moscow recognised separatist regions in the Donbas as independent states.
Conservative MP Julian Knight – chair of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee – is among the senior backbenchers now calling for Uefa to think again.
“It’s something that must be considered given this naked act of aggression,” Mr Knight told The Telegraph. “To host such a landmark event as the Russian tanks roll sends out all the wrong messages.”
Tracey Crouch – the former sports minister who led the recent fan-led review of English football – has also called on the governing body to “urgently reconsider” holding the final in St Petersburg.
“Uefa should urgently reconsider the decision to hold the Champions League final in Russia following Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine,” she said.
The final is due to be take place as the Krestovsky Stadium – known as the Gazprom Arena – on 28 May in front of 68,000 European football fans.
But officials at European football’s governing body have said they are “monitoring” developments but are not currently looking at moving the match away from the Russia city yet.
“Uefa is constantly and closely monitoring the situation,” the game’s governing body said on Tuesday. “At present, there are no plans to change the venue.”
Mr Johnson is set to reveal a series of economic sanctions against entities in Russia and the Donbas, after chairing an early morning emergency meeting of the Cobra committee.
“This is I should stress just the first barrage of UK economic sanctions against Russia because we expect I’m afraid that there is more Russian irrational behaviour to come,” he told broadcasters.
The prime minister’s warnings came after Moscow ordered troops into two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine, allegedly to carry out “peacekeeping” duties.
The dramatic escalation came after Mr Putin recognised the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the Donbas as independent states.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace said the situation in Ukraine was “incredibly serious”, adding: “This is a sovereign state which has now had some of its land effectively annexed from it.”
Fellow cabinet minister Sajid Javid said “you can conclude that the invasion of Ukraine has begun” after the Russian president ordered troops over the border.
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