Chelsea’s Abramovich ‘trying to help’ in Ukraine-Russia dispute | Roman Abramovich
Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea football club, is believed to be mediating the Russian invasion of Ukraine, although his spokesman has acknowledged he will have “limited” influence.
The move comes amid pressure from activists and MPs for Abramovich to be targeted by Western sanctions. He made his first public comment since Russia invaded Ukraine, via his Chelsea spokesperson, to say his help had been requested.
“I can confirm that Roman Abramovich was contacted by the Ukrainian side for support in finding a peaceful resolution, and has been trying to help ever since,” his spokesperson said.
“Given what is at stake, we ask for your understanding why we have not commented on either the situation as such or its implication.”
The request to intervene came from Ukrainian film producer Alexander Rodnyansky. No further details on his role, if any, were given.
Abramovich handed over the management of Chelsea to the trustees of the club’s charitable foundation, although he remains the owner. As long as he is not sanctioned, he can continue to finance the club. He disputed reports of his alleged close relationship with Vladimir Putin and denied that any sanctions were imposed on him.
Last week, Labor MP Chris Bryant used parliamentary privilege to say that Abramovich had been identified by the Home Office in 2019 as having ties to the Russian state as well as “activities and practices of bribery”. Citing a leaked Home Office document, Bryant said the UK should seize Abramovich’s assets and ban him from owning Chelsea.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has claimed the UK has a “blacklist” of Russian oligarchs who will face sanctions over the next few weeks, and said there will be “a program sanctions” once cases against individuals are legally watertight. .
“We are targeting the private jets of the oligarchs, we will target their properties, we will target other property they own,” she told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday. “There will be nowhere to hide.”
Truss also said the government would introduce its long-awaited economic crime bill this week to make it easier to target assets, by imposing more transparency on ownership.
So far, only eight Russian oligarchs have been identified as subject to individual UK sanctions, but officials are believed to be looking at more than 100 people as potential targets, with more names expected to be released in the coming days.