Sport

Chelsea owner Abramovich helps Ukraine negotiate peace

PHOTO FILE: Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in the stands
FILE PHOTO: English football – Chelsea v Sunderland – Premier League – Stamford Bridge – 5/21/17 Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich in the stands Action image via Reuters / John Sibley Livepic

February 28, 2022

By Guy Faulconbridge and Pavel Polityuk

LONDON/LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Billionaire Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, owner of English Premier League soccer club Chelsea, has accepted Ukraine’s offer to help negotiate an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. .

Abramovich was asked by Ukraine to help mediate because he comes from Russia, where he made a lot of money during the tumultuous post-communist privatizations of the 1990s, a source with knowledge of the matter said. with Reuters in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on condition of anonymity.

News of Abramovich’s involvement in the conflict negotiations first came from the Jewish News, which said Kyiv had reached out through Jewish connections to seek help. his help.

A spokesman for Abramovich said: “I can confirm that Roman Abramovich has been contacted by the Ukrainian side to assist in reaching a peaceful resolution and he has been trying to help ever since.

“Considering what is at stake, we would ask to understand why we are not commenting on such a situation or his involvement.”

Abramovich, who is Jewish and has Israeli citizenship, is one of the most powerful businessmen who made a fortune after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Forbes put his net worth at 13, 3 billion USD.

A commodities trader who thrived during the post-Soviet turmoil of the 1990s under President Boris Yeltsin, Abramovich bought shares in oil company Sibneft, aluminum producer Rusal and airline Aeroflot was later sold.

Under President Vladimir Putin, Abramovich served as governor of the remote Arctic region of Chukotka in Russia’s Far East.

It remains unclear what role Abramovich will play in talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials that begin Monday at the Belarusian border.

Earlier, an adviser to the Ukrainian president said Kyiv’s goals for the talks were an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine. Ukrainian media later clarified that the reported comments were the personal opinions of the adviser, who is not a member of the negotiating delegation. Moscow has not made clear its goals in the negotiations.

“Ukraine wanted to find someone to help find a peaceful solution and they were asked by the Jewish community to contact Roman,” a second source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters.

“It is not clear what influence he will have as Russia is not a country where big businessmen can influence political decisions,” the source said.

Abramovich, 55, said on Saturday he has assigned the trustees to manage the Chelsea club.

In recent days, two other Russian billionaires, Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska, have called for an end to the conflict.

Putin used an early-morning speech to the nation on February 24 to order “a special military operation” against Ukraine just three days after recognizing two Russian-backed rebel regions. in Ukraine.

Putin said he was ordering a military operation to protect people, including Russian citizens, from “genocide” – an allegation that Ukraine and the West reject as baseless propaganda.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by William James, Alistair Smout and Mark Heinrich)

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Ashley

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