Russia has withdrawn from the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest after failing to resolve a dispute with host country Ukraine over the banning of its chosen performer. Hopeful Julia Samoylova was given a travel ban by Ukraine in March after she had made a visit to Crimea, which Moscow annexed in 2014. The Russians confirmed their withdrawal from the competition last week which takes place in Kiev on 13th May.

Proposals rejected

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have remained high since the conflict three years' ago and sadly, this political fallout has resulted in one of the anticipated favourites for the competition bowing out without getting the opportunity to perform.

Eurovision official Frank Dieter Freiling has admitted his disappointment at Ukraine's decision to prohibit Samoylova from travelling but added, "Preparations continue apace for the Eurovision Song Contest in the host city of Kiev. Our top priority remains to produce a spectacular Eurovision Song Contest."

The EBU (European Broadcasting Union) did attempt to defuse the situation by offering two proposals to Russia's host broadcaster, Channel One so Samoylova could still participate. These included performing from Russia via satellite link or even changing the artist to someone who could legally travel to the Ukrainian capital. Both avenues were rejected and consequently, Russia has exited before the party begins in mid-May.

Channel One also confirmed they have no intention to show the contest on television.

Who are the favourites?

Russia first participated at Eurovision in 1994, three years after the break-up of the Soviet Union. At the turn of the 21st century, they've enjoyed great success with a number of popular and successful acts. In 2008, Dima Bilan, who was participating for the second time, won the contest with "Believe" to take Eurovision to Moscow in 2009.

In the 17 years of Eurovision since the millennium, Russia co-holds the record for the most top-five finishes - nine along with Sweden. In 2017, they will not be adding to that impressive tally.

The Swedes are considered to be among the frontrunners once again, along with Italy and Bulgaria. Australia has once again been invited to take part in the annual event.

The UK's entrant this year is Welsh singer and model Lucie Jones. A former 'X-Factor' contestant who was eliminated controversially in the 2009 series by 'Jedward.' Lucie's song is "Never Give Up on You." She will aim to end the UK's appalling recent record with constant finishes in the bottom five. 20 years have now passed since the last UK victory at Eurovision.

Two semi-finals will take place in the week leading up to the main show which once again will be shown on the BBC with Graham Norton covering the event.