- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 5, 2019

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine has dropped defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy from the national team after he joined Russian soccer club Zenit St. Petersburg.

Rakitskiy wasn’t included in Ukraine’s squad for upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Portugal and Luxembourg, the first games since he signed for Zenit in January.

Ukraine coach Andriy Shevchenko hasn’t explained the decision to drop Rakitskiy, who has played 54 times for his country.

Rakitsky’s move to Zenit was unpopular in Ukraine, where tensions remain high following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and its support for separatists in the eastern part of the country. Zenit is owned by Russian state gas company Gazprom.

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