We are approaching the one-year mark of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the war between the two nations rages on with no end in sight.
The war has resulted in a humanitarian crisis in the eastern half of Ukraine, forcing millions of refugees from their homes. The fighting has affected virtually every corner of Ukrainian society, including sports, as further evidenced by the destruction of Ukraine's premier hockey arena and facilities on Tuesday.
A Russian missile attack struck and destroyed Altair arena in the town of Druzhkivka, according to the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation. A French news station caught the attack live on air, with a reporter ducking for cover after a missile strikes a building in the background.
According to The Kyiv Independent, two people were injured in the blast.
The rink served as the home arena for HC Donbass, who moved in after their former facility in Donetsk was destroyed in a fire when war between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists erupted in Donetsk Oblast in 2014. According to multiple reports, the arena was being used to store humanitarian aid.
Videos posted online following the blast show emergency responders rushing to put out the fire as the arena burned.
HC Donbass posted a video to YouTube on Wednesday highlighting the extent of the damages the building sustained in the attack.
Club general manager Fedor Ilyenko said in a Facebook post that the arena was also home to Ukraine's biggest hockey and figure skating schools.
"It's hundreds of children's competitions, dozens of international tournaments, children's smiles...," he wrote. "It's people who have created joy all eight years since the start of the war."
According to the country's hockey federation, Altair is the fifth arena to be destroyed by Russian strikes since the start of the war, along with venues in Donetsk, Mariupol, Melitopol and Sievierodonetsk.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba reacted to the latest missile strike by doubling down on his call for Russian athletes to be banned from international sporting events.
"I invite all sports officials who want to allow Russian athletes to compete in international events because, as they say, 'politics should be kept out of sports', to visit the Altair ice arena in Druzhkivka ruined by Russia’s 'politically neutral' shelling," Kuleba wrote on Twitter.
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