President Vladimir Putin has backed a surprise bid from Russia to rival Australia's pitch to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup.
The Russian Rugby Federation has confirmed the country will bid to stage the global tournament, with Australia the current favourites to earn host status for the first time since 2003.
World Rugby's official host bidding process is expected to open in February 2021, with the 2027 host decision expected in May 2022.
France held off competition from Ireland and South Africa to stage the 2023 tournament, with Japan having enjoyed a record-breaking competition in 2019.
Russia finished bottom of Pool A at Japan 2019.
"On July 24 the supreme council of the Russian Rugby Federation established a committee to prepare an application to host the Rugby World Cup in Russia in 2027," read a statement on the Russian Rugby Federation website.
The Supreme Council of the Rugby Union of Russia has created a Committee to prepare an application to host the 2027 @rugbyworldcup in Russia— Russian Rugby (@russiarugby) July 28, 2020
The start of the bidding campaign officially begins in February 2021 and a decision will be made by @WorldRugby in May 2022 pic.twitter.com/kfgm6cakwo
The statement added: ""The necessary consultations were held with the participation of the ministry of sports. By the end of this year detailed information and criteria for the application are expected.
Australia is well advanced in its push to bid for the tournament, naming an influential World Cup bid advisory board in recent weeks.