The billionaire businessman, who has been placed on the Western sanctions list along with Russian oligarchs others, participate in Russia-Ukraine negotiations Tuesday (29/3/2022) in Istanbul, Turkey.
RIA Novosti state news agency reported that Abramovich spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday (29/3/2022) morning before the talks began.
“He is not an official member of the (Russian) delegation” in the negotiations, but “is involved in ensuring certain contacts between the Russian and Ukrainian sides”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. AFP.
He further said that the role required the approval of both parties, “In Abramovich’s case, have consent”.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday he had accepted offers of support from Russian businessmen, including Abramovich, who owns and is seeking to sell Chelsea, and has long-standing ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Zelensky said the businessmen said they wanted to “do something” and “help somehow”, to reduce Russia’s incursion into Ukraine that has killed thousands.
Sky News reported on Tuesday (29/3/2022) that Abramovich had flown from Istanbul, Moscow and Kyiv to pass messages back and forth from Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky.
Days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began more than a month ago, a spokesman for the Chelsea owner said the billionaire had been contacted by Ukraine.
“Roman Abramovich was contacted by the Ukrainian side for support in reaching an amicable resolution, and that he has been trying to help since,” said a spokesman for Chelsea’s owners at the time.
His involvement was in response to a request from Ukrainian film producer Alexander Rodnyansky, who had asked for help from individuals linked to Russia.
“Although Roman Abramovich’s influence was limited, he was the only one who responded and tried to (act) himself,” Rodnyansky said.
The Chelsea owner attended talks in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv earlier this month, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Investigative media group Bellingcat said negotiations took place “on Ukrainian territory” and lasted until around 10pm on March 3.
Three members of the negotiating team went to an apartment in the city, where they began to feel early symptoms of poisoning, including inflammation of the eyes and skin, Bellingcat added.
“The symptoms didn’t subside until the morning,” the site said.
Bellingcat reported Abramovich and two other negotiators drove from Kyiv to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, before heading to Poland and then Istanbul to continue negotiations.
The Russian oligarch entered and left through a side door out of sight, the paper said.
Abramovich reportedly landed in Moscow after being spotted at an airport in Israel.
A jet linked to the Russian-Israeli billionaire landed in the Russian capital after a brief stop in Istanbul, en route from Tel Aviv, according to Flightradar24.
— Frederik Obermaier (@f_obermaier) March 21, 2022
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s press secretary, acknowledged Abramovich did take part in the initial peace talks between Ukraine and Russia.
However, Putin’s spokesman at the time insisted he would no longer attend the summit, which was left to diplomatic teams from the warring nations.
On Tuesday (29/3/2022), the Kremlin spokesman later confirmed Abramovich’s role while denying that the Russian oligarch was poisoned.
“It goes without saying that these reports do not correspond to reality.”
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday (28/3/2022) that Abramovich and Ukrainian negotiators were the targets of a suspected poison attack, potentially by Moscow hardliners seeking to sabotage peace talks.
A source familiar with the matter previously confirmed the report to AFPstating: “Unfortunately this happened, as the Wall Street Journal reported.”
After the meeting in the Ukrainian capital, Abramovich and at least two senior Ukrainian negotiators developed symptoms including red eyes, painful watery eyes and peeling skin on their faces and hands, according to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak did not confirm the incident.
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