Ukraine seeks Abramovich’s help to end Russia invasion

Ukraine seeks Abramovich's help to end invasion

Ukraine has asked Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to help support their attempts to reach a “peaceful resolution” with Russia, the billionaire’s spokesperson says.

They added Abramovich was contacted by Ukrainian officials and “has been trying to help ever since”.

Ukraine has called for a ceasefire before peace talks in Belarus.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military invasion of neighbouring Ukraine on Thursday.

Ukraine’s health ministry said on Sunday that 352 civilians, including 14 children, had been killed since Russia’s invasion began.

Abramovich announced on Saturday that “stewardship and care” of the club was being given to trustees of Chelsea’s charitable foundation.

Abramovich – who remains Chelsea’s owner with £1.5bn loaned to the club – did not reference Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in his statement.

The 55-year-old is one of Russia’s richest people and is believed to be close to Russian President Putin.

The spokesperson added: “Considering what is at stake, we would ask for your understanding as to why we have not commented on neither the situation as such nor his involvement.”

Ukrainian film director and producer Alexander Rodnyansky confirmed the Chelsea owner’s involvement in attempts to reach a peaceful resolution, but added he is unsure of the impact it will have.

“I can confirm that the Ukrainian side have been trying to find someone in Russia willing to help them in finding a peaceful resolution,” said Rodnyansky.

“They are connected to Roman Abramovich through the Jewish community and reached out to him for help. Abramovich has been trying to mobilize support for a peaceful resolution ever since.

“Although Abramovich’s influence is limited, he is the only one who responded and taken it upon himself to try.

“If this will have an impact or not, I don’t know, but I am in contact with [Ukraine President Volodymyr] Zelensky’s staff myself, and know that they are grateful for his genuine efforts.”

It is not known yet if Abramovich will be sanctioned as part of the UK government’s measures against Russia, and the trustees of Chelsea’s charitable foundation have not yet agreed to take control of the club.

Members of the charitable foundation met on Sunday to discuss the situation, but some have concerns over whether Charity Commission rules would allow them to run the club and the foundation’s lawyers are exploring what can be done.