Roman Abramovich ‘trying to help’ Ukraine negotiate for peace

Spokeswoman for Chelsea owner says he accepted Ukrainian request for support

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who owns Chelsea Football Club, has accepted a Ukrainian request to help negotiate an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Abramovich was asked by Ukraine to help mediate because of his background in Russia, where he made a fortune in the chaotic 1990s period of post-communist privatisation, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on condition of anonymity.

Word of Abramovich’s involvement in talks on the conflict first came from British publication the Jewish News, which said Kyiv had reached out through Jewish contacts to seek his help.

“I can confirm Roman Abramovich was contacted by the Ukrainian side for support in achieving a peaceful resolution, and that he has been trying to help ever since,” a spokeswoman for Abramovich said.


“Considering what is at stake, we would ask for understanding as to why we have not commented on either the situation as such or his involvement.”

Abramovich, who is Jewish and has Israeli citizenship, was one of the most powerful businessmen who earned fabulous fortunes after the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union. Forbes has put his net worth at $13.3 billion (€11.85bn).

A commodity trader who thrived in the post-Soviet disorder of the 1990s under then-president Boris Yeltsin, Abramovich acquired stakes in the Sibneft oil company, Rusal aluminium producer and Aeroflot airline that were later sold.

Under president Vladimir Putin, Abramovich served as governor of the remote Arctic region of Chukotka in Russia's far east.

It was not immediately clear what role, if any, Abramovich would have in talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials that began on Monday at the Belarusian border.

Abramovich (55) said on Saturday he was giving trustees of Chelsea stewardship of the club. That decision followed a call in the House of Commons from Labour MP Chris Bryant to sanction Abramovich. The Chelsea owner has vehemently disputed reports suggesting his alleged closeness to Putin and Russia or that he has done anything to merit being sanctioned.

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