Roman Abramovich intervenes in Ukraine-Russia crisis with bid to broker peace

Ukraine’s government is said to have welcomed the tycoon’s efforts

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich was contacted by the Ukrainian side for support in achieving a peaceful resolution, his representatives say. EPA

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Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is attempting to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine, his representative has said.

The Russian-Israeli billionaire’s bid to de-escalate the conflict comes five days after Moscow's troops entered Ukraine.

On Saturday the tycoon, 55, announced he had handed “stewardship and care” of Chelsea to the club foundation’s trustees, in a move aimed at protecting the Premier League football club.

However, the six trustees have yet to confirm their agreement with the plan. The group is seeking more information about whether the running of the club would be compatible with British charity law and are said to have raised concerns at a meeting on Sunday, Sky Sports reported.

“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,” his representative told the PA news agency.

“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. Thank you.”

Ukrainian film director and producer Alexander Rodnyansky also confirmed Mr Abramovich’s involvement, insisting the Chelsea owner was the only person to respond to calls for help.

Mr Rodnyansky has claimed that representatives from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government had expressed gratitude for Mr Abramovich’s attempts to help defuse the crisis.

“I can confirm that the Ukrainian side have been trying to find someone in Russia willing to help them in finding a peaceful resolution,” Mr Rodnyansky said. “They are connected to Roman Abramovich through the Jewish community and reached out to him for help.

“Roman Abramovich has been trying to mobilise 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 Mr Zelenskyy’s staff myself, and know that they are grateful for his genuine efforts.”

While announcing his decision to step back from the day-to-day running of Chelsea on Saturday, Mr Abramovich did not mention Russia’s military attacks in Ukraine.

“During my nearly 20-year ownership of Chelsea FC, I have always viewed my role as a custodian of the club, whose job it is ensuring that we are as successful as we can be today, as well as build for the future, while also playing a positive role in our communities,” he said.

“I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interest at heart. I remain committed to these values. That is why I am today giving trustees of Chelsea’s charitable Foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea FC.

“I believe that currently they are in the best position to look after the interests of the club, players, staff, and fans.”

His silence on the conflict was heavily criticised, and prompted the club to issue a statement the following morning offering prayers for Ukraine.

“The situation in Ukraine is horrific and devastating,” the club said. “Chelsea FC's thoughts are with everyone in Ukraine. Everyone at the club is praying for peace."

Mr Abramovich retains ownership of the club.

Updated: March 03, 2022, 5:28 AM
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