Zelensky urged Biden against Roman Abramovich sanctions to help with Putin peace talks, report says

Ukraine reportedly hopes oligarch could be go-between with Kremlin

Graeme Massie
Wednesday 23 March 2022 20:16 GMT
Boris Johnson tells MPs Roman Abramovich faces sanctions
Leer en Español

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky urged Joe Biden to not sanction Roman Abramovich as the Chelsea owner may be able to help with Russian peace talks, a report says.

The US Treasury Department was prepared to sanction the oligarch earlier this month along with the United Kingdom and European Union, but was told by the White House to hold off, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Mr Zelsneky had asked the US president to wait on sanctioning Mr Abramovich, who has a close relationship with Vladimir Putin, as Ukraine’s leaders believe he might be a crucial go-between with Moscow, an official told the newspaper.

On the call Mr Biden reportedly spoke with Mr Zelensky on a range of sanctions that the White House intended to implement.

“We are not going to read out private conversations between President Biden and President Zelensky,” said Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the White House’s National Security Council.

Earlier this month Mr Abramovich had all his assets frozen in the UK and European Union, while the US has already targeted wealthy oligarchs with its Western allies in an attempt to raise pressure on Mr Putin.

“For the negotiations, and in the interest of them succeeding, it is not helpful commenting on the process nor on Mr Abramovich’s involvement,” a spokesperson for Mr Abramovich said in a statement.

“As previously stated, based on requests, including from Jewish organizations in Ukraine, he has been doing all he can to support efforts aimed at restoring peace as soon as possible.”

Mr Abramovich feels he can try to use his standing in the Russian business community to impact the talks between the two nations, a person close to him told the newspaper.

It is unknown if the businessman has actually spoken to Mr Putin or carried out any substantive negotiations between the two countries.

US officials told The Wall Street Journal that there is no reason to believe that the oligarch has been helpful in the talks between Ukraine and Russia on ending the unprovoked invasion.

Mr Abramovich became involved when Ukrainian officials reached out to people with Kremlin contacts that might be able to get the ear of Mr Putin.

One of these was movie producer Alexander Rodnyansky, the father of an adviser to Ukraine’s president, according to his publicist Lera Paksyalina.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in