A draft law to bring Russia's annexed regions into its sporting system has been adopted ©Getty Images

Russia's State Duma has adopted a "draft basic law" which aims to fully integrate the regions it has illegally annexed from Ukraine into its sporting system.

The law applies to the Donetsk People's Republic and Lugansk People's Republic in the east of Ukraine, which Russia annexed in September, despite international condemnation, following Vladimir Putin's invasion of the country.

It also covers the Ukrainian oblasts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia which Russia has laid claim to despite not being in control of significant parts of these regions. 

The Bill allows for the affected regions to set up their own sporting organisations which could then join All-Russian bodies.

Athletes, including those who have previously represented Ukraine, will have access to scholarships, benefits and incentive payments.

This would apply to those who have done well in events such as the Olympics, Paralympics and World Championships.

Sports titles assigned previously under Ukrainian rules will still be recognised and Russian insignia will appear on Ready for Labour and Defence facilities. 

Ukraine has liberated large parts of Kherson but Russia still lays claim to it ©Getty Images
Ukraine has liberated large parts of Kherson but Russia still lays claim to it ©Getty Images

More than RUB3.2 billion (£31 million/$39 million/€36 million) has been pledged for sport in the annexed areas but the vast majority of the world does not recognise Russia's claim to them.

Dmitry Svishchev, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Physical Culture and Sports, told Russia's official state news agency TASS that the bill would "accelerate the integration of new regions into Russian sports life".

Referendums claimed by Russia to reveal support for the annexations are considered to be a sham, and Ukraine has global support in its bid to win back the areas.

Ukrainian forces recaptured the city of Kherson in November and Russia does not control a large area in the north-west of the oblast.

It has also failed to claim the north of Zaporizhzhia and its capital.