Russian-Israeli billionaire owner of Chelsea FC answers request by Ukrainian officials to help enable talks with Russia.
https://www.jpost.com/-By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea FC looks on during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 21, 2017 in London, England.
(photo credit: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich, at the request of Ukraine, is in Belarus assisting in the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine as part of an effort to end the ongoing war, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Abramovich was asked by the Ukrainians to help in enabling the talks, and has traveled to Belarus to participate in the discussions.
Delegations from Russia and Ukraine arrived at the Belarusian border town of Gomel on Sunday and began talks aimed at finding a way to end the fighting in Ukraine. Abramovich has close ties with the Jewish communities in Ukraine and Russia.
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Kornichuk would not comment specifically on Abramovich’s involvement in the talks, but said that “we appreciate anyone who can help, if he has enough influence.”
Abramovich, the owner of the Chelsea Football Club, has come under fire in London over reports of his past relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Calls have mounted in parliament for him to be sanctioned. On Sunday, he decided to give the “stewardship” of Chelsea over to trustees of the club’s charitable foundation.
Alexander Rodnyansky, a two-time Oscar-nominated producer who was born in Kyiv and is in close contact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his staff, told The Post that government officials reached out to him and other members of the Jewish community in Russia and asked for intervention as a way to try and resolve the conflict.
Rodnyansky said that he spoke to Abramovich who decided to become involved in those efforts to help try to end the war.
“The Ukrainians had been trying to find someone in Russia who could help in finding a peaceful resolution,” Rodnyansky explained. “They reached out for help and Roman is the person who decided to help and to mobilize support for a peaceful resolution.”
Rodnyansky said that while Abramovich’s “influence is limited”, he was the only person he knew of who agreed in Russia to the Ukrainian request. “I don’t know if there will be impact but we know Zelensky’s staff and I am from the Ukraine and they are grateful for the efforts,” he said.
A spokesperson for Abramovich would not comment on the reports that he was in Belarus but confirmed that he was approached by the Ukrainian officials.
“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. 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,” the spokesperson said.