The flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, the eastern Ukrainian annexed region, flies in the wind in front of its embassy ©Getty Images

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin has pledged to allocate RUB1.3 billion (£14.4 million/$17.4 million/€16.4 million) to developing sport in annexed regions of Ukraine and claimed that more than 2,500 athletes from those areas had trained in Russia over the past year.

The Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) are set to benefit from the investment with many sporting facilities expected to be repaired, according to Russia’s official state news agency TASS.

The two areas as well as the regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia were annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin after staging so-called referendums last September.

The votes have been widely dismissed as a sham, with the United Nations demanding a reverse of what it condemned as an "illegal" annexation.

The four Russian-occupied areas make up 15 per cent of Ukrainian territory.

Matytsin claimed that athletes and coaches had evacuated the DPR, LPR and Zaporizhzhia regions to "perverse the training process and participate in competitions" in his country since the invasion 12 months ago.

"Over the past year, more than 2,500 people from the annexed territories have completed training [camps] in several dozen regions of Russia," Matytsin told TASS.

Many buildings in Zaporizhzhia have been badly damaged during Russia's military assault on Ukraine ©Getty Images
Many buildings in Zaporizhzhia have been badly damaged during Russia's military assault on Ukraine ©Getty Images

A total of 24 sports facilities are set to be restored in the LPR and DPR courtesy of RUB520 million (£5.7 million/$6.9 million/€6.5 million) funding allocated by the Russia’s Ministry of Sports as well as five from the country’s Ministry of Constructions despite the war continuing.

The state investment is also due to include RUB480 million (£5.3 million/$6.4 million/€6 million) for the creation for 12 sports and recreation complexes and RUB300 million (£3.3 million/$4 million/€3.7 million) for equipment to be supplied to youth sports schools in the two regions.

Alexander Roslyakov, director of the department for investment development and state property management of Russia’s Sports Minister, announced the funding allocation at a meeting of the State Duma Committee on Physical Culture and Sports, according to TASS.

"The need for the material and technical support of sports institutions, including inventory and equipment, was determined," Matytsin told TASS.

"At the expense of the Ministry of Sports, a plan for the supply of equipment for 40 sports schools was agreed.

"In 2023, it is planned to overhaul 24 sports facilities at the expense of the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation and five at the expense of the Ministry of Construction of the Russian Federation, as well as the construction of 12 sports and recreation complexes by March 2024 to ensure the comfortable life of the sports industry of new entities.

"Together with the Ministry of Industry and Trade in the DPR and the LPR, the issue of supplying equipment and equipment from Russian manufacturers in nine sports is being worked out."