Russian fencers are banned from international competition due to the war in Ukraine, but the topic is up for debate at the FIE Congress ©Getty Images

Finnish Fencing and Pentathlon Federation President Joonas Lyytinen has urged the International Fencing Federation (FIE) to maintain the ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Lyytinen believes the FIE would send a "very strange message" should it lift restrictions against Russia and military ally Belarus.

His comments come after it was revealed that a decision on the status of athletes from the two nations is set to be made at next month’s FIE Congress.

Lyytinen expects that members will be asked to vote on whether Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials should be allowed to return to international competition.

However, the Finnish official insisted that it was "not the time to undo the exclusion" while Ukraine continues to be attacked by Russian forces.

"In my view, it would be a very strange message to send to the world and sporting community [if the FIE lift the restrictions]," Lyytinen told insidethegames.

"We initially banned the athletes because of the actions of the Russian state and Belarus who support that.

"Since then, things have not got any better but worse over the months and the war is still ongoing.

"If we ban these athletes in February because of this, how can we invite them back when the underlying facts haven’t changed?"

Lyytinen sympathised with banned fencers who are against the war but claimed their participation would add to the "Russian propaganda machine".

"The urgency in this matter is because the Olympic qualification for Paris [2024] is starting so if the Russian and Belarusian athletes are not allowed in now then they will not qualify," added Lyytinen.

"I understand why this discussion is going on now but nothing has changed to the reasons that were used for the exclusion in February.

"It is very fortunate that the Russian athletes can't participate when they are not personally responsible and I am happy that the Russian Fencing Federation has not supported the war unlike some sporting organisations in Russia but at the same time sport is a major part of the Russian propaganda machine and [Vladimir] Putin and the Kremlin regime is using sport to rile up nationalist fervour."

Lyytinen also fears that international competitions would descend into "total chaos" if Russia and Belarus were able to compete.

"I am sure that if we allowed the Russian athletes to participate in international fencing this would cause continual problems with fencers refusing to fence other fencers, leading to different disciplinary proceedings and that would put athletes in a really difficult situation," added Lyytinen.

The FIE Congress is due to be held on November 226 in Swiss city Lausanne.

Emmanuel Katsiadakis is expected to be ratified as Interim President of the organisation during the gathering.

The Greek official has been leading the FIE since Uzbek-born Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov agreed to step aside as President following the European Union's decision to impose economic sanctions on him over Russia's military assault on Ukraine.

Usmanov has also been sanctioned by the United States and United Kingdom.