Social media posts showing the pages liked by Valeria Kobzeva ©Ukraine Ministry of Sports and Youth

The Ukrainian Sports Ministry has accused Russian fencer Valeria Kobzeva of breaching guidelines that allow athletes to participate as neutral competitors in international competitions.

Kobzeva, one of six fencers selected by the Russian Fencing Federation to appear in this week's European Championships in Plovdiv, had liked posts by Team CSKA in support of the war in Ukraine.

Kobzeva was one of a trio of young fencers chosen for the sabre along with Alena Lisina and Anna Smirnova, who at 23 is the oldest in the group.

In the entry list posted for the event by organisers, Kobzeva's name no longer appears.

"Her engagement with content promoting the attack on Ukraine has drawn criticism from multiple quarters," a statement from the Ukraine Ministry of Sports and Youth said.

"Kobzeva's actions have reignited discussions about the role of athletes as public figures and the impact their statements can have on international relations."

In March, the International Fencing Federation (FIE) voted to allow Russian and Belarus competitors to take part under neutral flags, subject to International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendations.

The regulations banned athletes affiliated to the armed forces and security services in Russia and also those who indicate support for the war in Ukraine.

Olympic individual and team sabre gold medallist Sofia Pozdniakova is banned from competing because of her affiliation with the Russian armed forces ©Getty Images
Olympic individual and team sabre gold medallist Sofia Pozdniakova is banned from competing because of her affiliation with the Russian armed forces ©Getty Images

"This incident raises questions about the responsibility of athletes in navigating sensitive political issues and the potential repercussions on their careers and public image," the statement continued.

The party of Russians had also included three épée fencers, 19-year-old Yana Bekmurzova, who competed at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, alongside fellow teenager Polina Khaertdinova.

Artem Sarkisyan is set to take part in men's épée.

Russian fencers have also been told they will be allowed as neutrals at the FIE World Championships, which is scheduled to begin on July 22 in Milan.

Some fencers have been already excluded because of affiliations to the Russian armed forces or security forces.

Sofia Pozdniakova, who won individual and team sabre gold at the Tokyo Games is among those not permitted to compete because of her affiliation to the Russian armed forces.

She is also the daughter of Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov.

Her fellow team gold medallist from Tokyo, Sofya Velikaya, has also been excluded along with Tokyo team foil champion Inna Deriglazova and Rio 2016 individual and team sabre gold medallist Yana Egorian.

Last month, 2019 world team sabre gold medallist Dmitry Danilenko branded the FIE conditions "unfair" and announced his refusal to compete as a neutral.

Double Olympian Veniamin Reshetnikov, winner of three FIE World Championships team sabre titles and the individual gold in 2013, has also been critical of the regulations.

He told Russia's official state news agency TASS that conditions are "practically impossible". 

In April, an open letter signed by over 200 fencers objected to the FIE's decision to allow the return of Russian and Belarusian fencers as neutrals and FIE World Cup events in Bonn and Tauberbischofsheim in Germany, Poznań in Poland and Saint-Maur-des-Fossés in France were cancelled.

The FIE has also ruled that only team competitions at the European Games in Poland would be eligible for Olympic qualification ranking points, a decision which prompted protests from the Nordic Fencing Union.

The FIE have been contacted by insidethegames for comment on Kobzeva's social media postings.