The sanctions resulting from the brutal war of aggression against Ukraine have largely isolated Russia as an ice hockey nation worldwide.

There they now want to at least partially regain the lost influence on the international stage - with the help of the newly founded so-called "Association for the Promotion of Hockey in Islamic Countries".

It's not just about sporting goals.

Alexander Davydov

sports editor.

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According to Russian media, the ice hockey associations from a total of 13 Muslim countries have joined the organization.

One of the goals should therefore be to strengthen the relationship between Russia and Islamic countries, for example with joint tournaments.

The founding members include Kazakhstan and Turkey, which are currently ranked 16th and 39th by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

Qualitatively outside of this rating, but still part of the alliance are Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Powerful oil nations that, despite the Russian invasion of Ukraine and global sanctions, are maintaining economic ties that are hugely important to the Kremlin.

However, these countries are unlikely to be of much use to Russia as a substitute for lost sporting opponents from the West.

Headquarters in Russia

"You all know that hockey in these countries is in the early stages of development and it will take ten years," said Anvar Omorkanov, vice-president of the Association for the Promotion of Hockey in Islamic Countries in Tatarstan.

The autonomous Russian republic is not only one of the founding members.

In the future, the headquarters will also be located in Kazan, the capital.

"We can learn a lot from the Ak Bars club and teams from Tatarstan, where there is a great history of hockey development," said Omorkanov.

Ak Bars, most recently 2006 Russian Champion and 2008 IIHF Continental Champion, is owned by the Russian oil company Tatneft.

Parts of the group have been on the European Union's sanctions list since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Tatneft's CEO, Nail Maganov, who is both president of Ak Bars and the Ice Hockey Federation of Tatarstan, was nevertheless elected the association's first president.

As reported by the industry portal "Inside the Games", the IIHF refuses to recognize the newly founded sports organization under Russian leadership.

According to the US Treasury Department, Maganov was also classified as close to the Kremlin - although his brother, the oligarch and Putin critic Rawil Maganov, died under dubious circumstances in a fall from a window last year.