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Ukrainian vice PM calls on "all game development companies and esports platforms" to cease working with Russian teams and players temporarily

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is affecting all economic functions in both countries.

Image via Ubisoft

The international sanctions placed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine has reached the Rainbow Six Siege ecosystem as a high-ranking Ukrainian official has called for sanctions. 

One day after BLAST Premiere officially stated that it would not work with Russian CS:GO teams temporarily, Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation, has called on "all game development companies and esports platforms" to cease working with Russian-based "teams and gamers" temporarily. 

Xbox and PlayStation were tagged in Fedorov's tweet, but the text of his letter states to "all" companies and platforms. This includes Ubisoft and the Rainbow Six Siege Global Circuit.

Fedorov called on Ubisoft directly to "close your offices in russia [sic]" along with multiple other games studios. 

ESL has also taken action in its CS:GO competitions. ESL will allow Russian players to play under neutral banners, but will not allow "individuals or organizations under alleged or confirmed EU sanctions related to the conflict" to participate. Currently, in CS:GO, this list includes Virtus.Pro and Gambit. 

Which Rainbow Six Siege teams are from Russia?

Two Russian-based organizations are currently involved in Rainbow Six Siege's European League that could be affected: Virtus.Pro and Team Empire.

Ukrainian-based team organization Natus Vincere has cut ties with ESForce Holdings over its position on the war. ESForce Holdings also owns Virtus.Pro — meaning the organization has some level of connection to the Russian oligarchy that BLAST and ESL have just taken some form of action against. 

Whether the sanctions are agreeable, fair, or not, some form may be inevitable for Rainbow Six Siege esports. The EU has agreed to exclude Russian banks from the SWIFT system, a way banks communicate instructions to move funds electronically. SWIFT, effectively, is one of only a few ways Russian teams can be adequately compensated in terms of prize pool money and other revenue-sharing opportunities. Without a way to distribute earnings, some form of barring Russian teams from competing in international or even regional competitions seems inevitable if they cannot be adequately compensated due to wartime sanctions on Russian banks. 

The exact manner Ubisoft and their contracted tournament organizers use to distribute funds is not public at the time of writing. 

Artem "Shockwave" Simakov, former Virtus.Pro and Team Empire player, has tweeted that he has had to delete an anti-war tweet for fear of being arrested. Legislation in Russia is reportedly pending to sanction "fake news" with up to 15 years in prison. "Fake news" is an extremely broad and malleable term, and it's reasonable to interpret the reportedly proposed legislation as a threat.

Needless to say, it's a very difficult time to be a relatively uninvolved player in Russia. 

The entire sporting (esports included) world is reacting to the economic sanctions imposed on Russia. FIFA and UEFA have barred Russian clubs and the national teams from competing. Direct flights from Russia to the United States have been restricted (Ubisoft has announced that the first Major of the year will be in the U.S.). EA SPORTS will remove all Russian national and club teams from the FIFA video game

A member of a PR firm representing Ubisoft and a direct Ubisoft representative were emailed a request for comment on the status of the Russian-based teams in the Siege esports ecosystem. The request was not immediately returned. 

Ubisoft has previously announced that they will be donating money to the Red Cross and have set up alternate housing for their workers in Ukraine. They also released a statement expressing the means by which they are working to protect their employees that could be in harm's way.

"We stand by our teams in Ukraine and will continue to adapt and reinforce our support as the situation evolves," the statement said. 

Further action from the esports team has not been detailed at the time of writing. 

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