all scores

Breanna Stewart joins other WNBA stars leaving Russia’s Ekaterinburg

Several high-profile WNBA players are opting to leave Russia's UMMC Ekaterinburg. (BSR Agency/Getty Images)

The exodus of players from Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg continues, with Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce Safisport announcing Breanna Stewart has signed with them for the 2022-23 EuroLeague season.

Stewart joins Emma Meesseman and Jonquel Jones in leaving Ekaterinburg for teams in Turkey. Chicago Sky standout Courtney Vandersloot, another UMMC Ekaterinburg veteran, signed with Hungary’s Sopron Basket in April.

While the need for players to go abroad to supplement their WNBA salaries has long been a sticking point, many have opted to stop playing in Russia amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine. Fellow WNBA star Brittney Griner’s detainment in Russia has also raised concerns about player safety in the country, as many believe Griner to be a political pawn.

Griner, who has been detained in the country on drug charges since February, was also a member of UMMC Ekaterinburg. Her trial began Friday in a Moscow court but was subsequently postponed to Thursday after several witnesses reportedly failed to report.

The players’ departures could lead to a shift in the competitive landscape overseas. Until this year, when Russia was barred from the EuroLeague playoffs because of the war, Russian teams have won EuroLeague titles every year since 2014. Sopron Basket won this year’s championship over Fenerbahce Safisport.

Russian teams still have the most titles in the modern era, having won 12 gold medals in the history of the EuroLeague and 28 total. The Soviet Union, which was dissolved in 1991, ranks first with 18 gold medals and 29 total.