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NHL cuts ties with top Russian hockey league

St. Louis Blues Vladimir Tarasenko of Russia congratulates goaltender Jordan Binnington after a 3-2 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis on February 19, 2019. The NHL said it has suspended a working arrangement with Russia's KHL on Monday. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/094593672725ee05bceaa717b0bc1a92/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
St. Louis Blues Vladimir Tarasenko of Russia congratulates goaltender Jordan Binnington after a 3-2 overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis on February 19, 2019. The NHL said it has suspended a working arrangement with Russia's KHL on Monday. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

March 8 (UPI) -- The NHL formally suspended its memorandum of understanding with Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, Europe's premier professional ice hockey association, because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

A memo issued to NHL general managers stated that its clubs should "immediately cease all dealings [direct or indirect] with the KHL and KHL Clubs [and all representatives of both], as well as with player agents who are based in and continue to do business in Russia," according to the Daily Faceoff.

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The 14-year-old KHL is widely acknowledged as the best professional hockey league in Europe and a fertile recruiting ground for the NHL. NHL and KHL clubs often have scheduled exhibition games against one another in the preseason as part of its Premier Series.

The NHL said it will respect existing and future KHL contracts but will no longer have the ability to verify contractual status directly.

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The United States and its Western allies have hit Russia and Belarus with strict sanctions forbidding business relationships in many areas.

Two teams that participated in KHL, Jokerit Helsinki, from Finland, and Dinamo Riga, of Latvia, dropped out of the league since the invasion.

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The NHL suspended its relationships with Russian business partners last week.

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"The National Hockey League condemns Russia's invasion of Ukraine and urges a peaceful resolution as quickly as possible, the NHL statement said. "Effective immediately, we are suspending our relationships with our business partners in Russia and we are pausing our Russian language social and digital media sites.

"In addition, we are discontinuing any consideration of Russia as a location for any future competitions involving the NHL."

It is the latest action taken against Russia by sports leagues. Formula One canceled the Russian Grand Prix while the UEFA moved the Champions League final from Russia to France.

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