Brazilian footballers plead for rescue from Ukraine

The players issued a message on social media as tensions with Russia escalated

A group have Brazilian footballers who play at Ukrainian clubs have requested immediate help to leave the country after tensions with Russia escalated and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared martial law.

Brazilian players from Ukrainian teams Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk asked for assistance to flee the country in a video shared on social media as they remained at a hotel in the capital city. 

Players including Junior Moraes, a Brazilian who received Ukrainian citizenship in 2019 and has 11 caps for his adopted country, issued calls for the authorities in his homeland to help them leave. 

“All friends and family are waiting for a solution to leave. We are inside a hotel. Pray for us,” wrote Moraes in an Instagram post.

Journalist Arthur Quezada quoted Moraes as saying: “The situation is one of despair. I ask you to disclose this video so that it reaches the government.

“Borders are closed, banks, there is no fuel, there will be a shortage of food, there is no money. We are gathered waiting for a plan to leave Ukraine.”

Dynamo Kiev and Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian players ask for help to leave Ukraine with their families pic.twitter.com/svSyM8i8cQ

— Marcus Alves (@_marcus_alves) February 24, 2022

Earlier on Thursday it was announced that the Ukrainian Premier League would be suspended for at least a month.

Ukrainian premier league team Shakhtar Donetsk have become particularly well known in recent years for signing Brazilian talent.

The club was based in the city of the same name in the war-torn eastern part of the country, before relocating. It now plays home matches in Kiev.    

Conflict escalated dramatically this month as two breakaway regions in the Donbass area reported shelling from Ukrainian forces.

This week, Russian President Vladimir Putin moved to formally recognize the two regions – the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) – and on Thursday ordered forces into the area.

Ukraine and its Western allies have condemned the step, although Moscow said it aims to defend the local population, and to “de-Nazify” and “de-militarize” Ukraine.

Ukraine has formally severed diplomatic ties with Russia and has restricted its airspace for civilian flights. Heavy traffic was seen trying to leave Ukrainian capital Kiev on Thursday.     

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