Ukraine threat to boycott Paralympics

Ukraine's Paralympic team will boycott the Paralympic Games in Russia's Sochi if Russian forces don't leave the Crimean peninsula.

Ukraine's Paralympic team will boycott the Paralympic Games in Russia's Sochi if Russian forces don't leave the Crimean peninsula in the next two days, an official told AFP Tuesday.

"We want a peaceful resolution and for the host country to stop aggression and pull troops from the Crimea before the Games begin," said Ukraine's paralympic committee spokeswoman Natalia Garach.

"If that does not happen, we will be boycotting," she told AFP by telephone from Sochi.

She said the committee is waiting until Thursday evening or Friday morning before going ahead with the boycott. The Paralympic Games are set to open on Friday at 8pm pm (11am AEDT).

Garach said Ukraine's team of 31 people, which includes eight guides for athletes with visual impairment, are now training in Sochi and are distressed by the events back home.

"We have no moral right to participate in such games," she said. If Russia does not stop confrontation in the Crimea "we will not participate in the Games hosted by a country that attacked our country."

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday received the green light from MPs for military intervention in Ukraine because of a "threat to life" to Russians in the country after a pro-European opposition deposed Viktor Yanukovych from the presidency.

Russian soldiers were in a stand-off with Ukraine's own forces and demanding surrender of Ukrainian military bases in Crimea, where Russia's Black Sea fleet is based.

In a statement Monday, Ukraine's Paralympic committee said Russia's "cynical attack on Ukraine's territory shows that Russia is not ready to host Paralympic Games."

"We are deeply offended by intervention of the Russians, who use the false excuse of so-called 'protection' of Russian speakers," the statement said.

"Ukraine's Paralympic team ... has athletes who speak Russian and consider it their native language."

Source AAP

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