Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich has appeared at peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey.
He was seen talking to Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is mediating in the talks in Istanbul between Ukraine and Russia. Russian State News Agency, Ria Novosti, released a picture showing Mr. Abramovich talking to the Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu at the meeting.
He was also spotted listening to a translation wearing headphones, sitting alongside Mr. Erdogan’s Spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin. However, they were not at the main table of the Russian and Ukrainian delegations.
President Erdogan, opened the talks by calling for a ceasefire and peace between Russia and Ukraine.
“Prolonging the conflict is not in anyone’s interest,” he told the two delegations at Dolmabahce Palace, urging them to come up with concrete results. Before the talks began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said his country was prepared to declare neutrality, one of Russia’s key demands. However, one of his main negotiators, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, made clear he had instructions that “we do not trade people, land or sovereignty”.
Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
The exact nature of Mr. Abramovich’s role in the talks is unclear, although Ukrainian Media suggested that he is there as a neutral party.
Reports that surfaced on Monday, March 28, 2022, suggested that Mr. Abramovich and two Ukrainian negotiators showed poisoning symptoms after talks in early March 2022. Mr. Abramovich is known to have spent weeks in a mediation role, flying between Moscow and Kyiv.
The Kremlin Spokesman stressed that Mr. Abramovich is not an official member of the Russian delegation in Istanbul but is involved in enabling contacts between the two delegations.
Ukraine’s UK Ambassador, Vadym Prystaiko also spoke about Mr. Abrmovich’s presence in Istanbul.
“I have no idea what Mr. Abramovich is claiming or doing. He is not a part of the negotiation team. I don’t know if he’s buying his way out somehow or if he’s really useful, that’s very difficult to tell.”
Ukraine’s UK Ambassador, Vadym Prystaiko
Prior to the Istanbul talks
The Chelsea Football Club owner is said to have suffered sore eyes and peeling skin, but has now recovered, reports say. According to a report by Wall Street Journal, Mr. Abramovich and the Ukrainian Negotiators were targeted by Russian hardliners (a member of a group, typically a political group) in Kyiv on March 3, 2022, but a Ukrainian Presidential Official later said the two Ukrainians were fine and one had said the story was false.
Russian Presidential Spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, who spoke on the report released on Monday, March 28, 2022, described it as untrue and part of an “information war”.
However, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, however, told National TV hours before the Istanbul talks that he has advised his colleagues attending negotiations with Russia not to eat or drink anything offered to them.
Other matters about Abramovich
The businessman’s yacht, Eclipse, is tied at the Turkish Port of Marmaris in recent days. Also, he has put Chelsea Football Club up for sale after the UK Government sanctioned him and several other oligarchs from Russia
Mr. Abramovich, who has Israeli citizenship, reportedly flew from Tel Aviv to Moscow by private jet on 14 March, 11 days after the alleged poison incident in Kyiv.
Issues of poisoning
A number of enemies of the Kremlin have suffered mysterious poisonings in recent years, including Russian opposition Leader, Alexei Navalny, who was attacked with a nerve agent in Siberia and activist, Vladimir Kara-Murza, who survived two incidents. But the Kremlin has denied any involvement.
In Ukraine in 2004, pro-European Presidential Candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, survived an attack with dioxins that disfigured his face. Russia again denied any involvement in the incident.