Ukraine's under-22 softball team have been playing a series of friendly games in Italy ©Instagram/fibs_italia

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and Italian Baseball and Softball Federation have set up friendly games for Ukraine's under-23 softball team to aid preparations for this year's European Championship.

The Ukrainian side are playing a series of exhibition games against Italian opposition in Buttrio until tomorrow.

That location is no coincidence, with games arranged in Buttrio to mark it being chosen to stage matches in the next Women’s Softball World Cup in 2023 and 2024.

Czech town Kunovice is then due to stage the Under-22 Women's European Championship from Sunday (June 26) until July 2.

The majority of Ukraine's squad have been playing in Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic, given the war at home.

The WBSC, WBSC Europe and respective Organising Committees earlier vowed to cover "a major part" of Ukrainian teams' costs of competing at European Championships this year.

Italy won softball's last Under-22 Women's European Championship ©Getty Images
Italy won softball's last Under-22 Women's European Championship ©Getty Images

At least 4,662 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia launched a full-scale invasion on February 24, the United Nations reports, but it believes the true figure is far higher.

More than 7.5 million people have fled the country, while the combined military death toll is thought to exceed 20,000.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of carrying out war crimes, including executing civilians.

Russia calls the attack a "special military operation" and claims to be seeking to "de-nazify" Ukraine - a claim widely dismissed as fictitious.

It is receiving military assistance from Belarus and national teams from both countries have been banned from all WBSC and WBSC Europe events this year over the war.