Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is a key player in early peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, according to his spokesperson.
The Russian oligarch, who has always denied he has a close relationship with Vladimir Putin, was apparently approached by officials in Kyiv - with his representative telling the Jerusalem Post he has been helping ever since.
“I can confirm that 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,” said the spokesperson.
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“Considering what is at stake, we would ask for understanding as to why we have not commented on neither the situation as such nor his involvement.”
Talks are taking place on the Belarus-Ukraine border on the fifth day of fighting since Russia began its invasion and the Jerusalem Post reports Mr Abramovich is currently in Belarus, though it is not clear whether he is around the table himself.
Several MPs have called for Abramovich to be sanctioned by the UK government, but no such measures have been imposed on him. On Saturday, he handed over ‘stewardship’ of Chelsea to the club's charitable foundation. He remains the owner, but the running of the club is entrusted to Bruce Buck, with director Marina Granovskaia still in control of football matters.
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Alexander Rodnyansky, a Ukrainian film director who has twice been nominated for an Oscar, has also confirmed Abramovich’s involvement. He has close ties with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
"I can confirm that the Ukrainian side have been trying to find someone in Russia willing to help them in finding a peaceful resolution," Rodnyansky told the Jerusalem Post.
"They are connected to Roman Abramovich through the Jewish community and reached out to him for help.
"Roman Abramovich has been trying to mobilize support for a peaceful resolution ever since. Although Roman 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."
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