Roman Abramovich ‘heads to Poland to act as a negotiator between Biden and Putin’

0

Embarrassed Chelsea FC oligarch Roman Abramovich has reportedly gone to Poland to act as a negotiator between US President Joe Biden and Russian Putin.

According to local media reports, the 55-year-old billionaire – who was recently sanctioned by the EU and the UK – took a train to Poland on Thursday with his Portuguese passport.

Investigative journalist Jakob Stachowiak of broadcaster TVN said on social media: ‘Yesterday he secretly came from Ukraine by smart train to Poland.

“Interestingly, he used a Portuguese passport. Perhaps there will be an informal meeting with the president. Did Putin send a billionaire?’

He added: “The oligarch came to Poland from the territory of Ukraine, where he reportedly spoke with President Volodymir Zelensky.

Zelensky had previously asked Biden not to impose sanctions on the Russian, saying he “might be an important intermediary in peace negotiations with Russia.”

Oligarch Abramovich is pictured at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel, on March 14

Embarrassed Chelsea FC oligarch Roman Abramovich has reportedly gone to Poland to act as a negotiator between US President Joe Biden and Russian Putin.

Abramovich's luxury lifestyle is being pressured by EU and UK sanctions - and now the US has moved to prevent its Gulfstream plane from making international flights

Abramovich's luxury lifestyle is being pressured by EU and UK sanctions - and now the US has moved to prevent its Gulfstream plane from making international flights

Abramovich’s luxury lifestyle is being pressured by EU and UK sanctions – and now the US has moved to prevent its Gulfstream plane from making international flights

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed yesterday that Abramovich was present at a first round of peace talks between the two sides in Belarus during the first week of Putin’s brutal invasion of his neighbor – which has now dragged on for four weeks.

The news comes as Biden arrived on a two-day trip to the Polish border town of Rzeszow, where he called for NATO unity and labeled Putin a “war criminal.”

He said: “The most important thing we can do from the start is to keep the democracies united in our opposition and to make an effort to stem the devastation that is happening at the hands of a man who, frankly, I think he is a war criminal, and I think that will meet the legal definition as well.’

Abramovich, a Russian-Portuguese-Israeli billionaire, was close to the Kremlin during Boris Yeltsin’s rule.

He would have been the first to recommend Putin to Yeltsin as his replacement. During Putin’s time in power, Abramovich was the governor of the Chukchi Autonomous Okrug for eight years.

Following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the UK has imposed sanctions on Abramovich, who has owned Chelsea for nearly 20 years since purchasing West London football club in 2004.

The club is now for sale and is currently under the hammer in a bidding process.

Abramovich has pledged to write off Chelsea’s £1.5bn debt and the bidding frenzy for the club could lead to a £3bn eventual deal.

The Russian billionaire made his fortune buying discounted state assets after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and owns billions of pounds as assets in the UK.

In the past month he was hit by a series of sanctions in the UK and the EU for his close relationship with Putin, rushing to divest before the asset freeze hit.

According to Polish media, a spokesman for Abramovich said: “In response to requests, including from Jewish organizations in Ukraine, he is doing everything possible to support efforts to restore peace as soon as possible.”

This comment from his representatives could not be immediately verified.

The MailOnline has asked for comment from Abramovich’s representatives.

Yesterday, Dmitry Peskov – Putin’s spokesman – confirmed that Abramovich was present during the early peace talks – but added that he no longer attends summits left to diplomatic teams of the warring nations.

“He did participate in the initial phase,” Peskov said on Thursday. “Now the negotiations are between the two teams, the Russians and Ukrainians.”

Peskov spoke out after it emerged that President Volodymyr Zelensky had asked Joe Biden not to follow UK and EU sanctions against Abramovich because he could be “useful” as an intermediary in talks.

Biden then pressured the US Treasury Department to await sanctions against the oligarch, which Britain and Europe have not yet followed by confiscating his assets and banning him from travel.

Abramovich's Gulfstream — as pictured here — is valued at about $65 million and is effectively barred from international travel, according to the Commerce Department

Abramovich's Gulfstream — as pictured here — is valued at about $65 million and is effectively barred from international travel, according to the Commerce Department

Abramovich’s Gulfstream — as pictured here — is valued at about $65 million and is effectively barred from international travel, according to the Commerce Department

Pictured: US President Joe Biden meets with Poland's President Andrzej Duda on March 25, 2022 in Rzeszow, Poland

Pictured: US President Joe Biden meets with Poland's President Andrzej Duda on March 25, 2022 in Rzeszow, Poland

Pictured: US President Joe Biden meets with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda on March 25, 2022 in Rzeszow, Poland

The revelations explain how one of the world’s richest men has avoided US sanctions, even as the United Kingdom and the European Union hit him with travel bans and asset freezes.

Sources familiar with calls told the Wall Street Journalthat Biden consulted Zelensky on a series of sanctions, including against Abramovich.

The White House declined to comment.

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

The Treasury Department also did not respond to a request for comment.

“For the negotiations, and in the interest of their success, it is not helpful to comment on the trial nor on Abramovich’s involvement,” his spokesman said.

“As mentioned earlier, at the request of Jewish organizations in Ukraine, among others, he has made every effort to support efforts aimed at restoring peace as quickly as possible.”

Following Russia's attack on Ukraine, the UK has imposed sanctions on Abramovich, who has owned Chelsea for nearly 20 years since purchasing West London football club in 2004.

Following Russia's attack on Ukraine, the UK has imposed sanctions on Abramovich, who has owned Chelsea for nearly 20 years since purchasing West London football club in 2004.

Following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the UK has imposed sanctions on Abramovich, who has owned Chelsea for nearly 20 years since purchasing West London football club in 2004.

The billionaire's superyacht Solaris was spotted off Tivat, Montenegro early last week, but arrived amid an attack threat in Turkey

The billionaire's superyacht Solaris was spotted off Tivat, Montenegro early last week, but arrived amid an attack threat in Turkey

The billionaire’s superyacht Solaris was spotted off Tivat, Montenegro early last week, but arrived amid an attack threat in Turkey

Abramovich has put Chelsea up for sale and the staff is said to have been ready for viewings at his 15-bedroom, $195 million (£150 million) mansion in London’s Kensington Palace Gardens, and a three-storey penthouse on Chelsea Waterfront.

Abramovich himself was recently believed to be in Moscow, having traveled there from Israel, where he is a national.

He quickly came under scrutiny from the Ministry of Finance when Russia invaded Ukraine nearly a month ago, according to a person familiar with the matter, and his assets were analyzed.

But it proceeded cautiously for fear that sanctions could affect global steel prices, as he owns a stake in Evraz PLC, which has steel plants in Oregon and Colorado.

At the same time, Ukrainian officials were wiretapping anyone with Russian contacts who could potentially act as an intermediary with Putin. That was reportedly also film producer Alexander Rodnyansky who in turn contacted Abramovich.

But his involvement is viewed with skepticism in some circles.

“Many people who claim to help have their own financial or geopolitical interests at stake,” said a Western diplomatic source.

US lawmakers have called on Washington to add its weight to the pressure on Abramovich.

Abramovich made his fortune buying discounted state assets after the collapse of the Soviet Union and was one of the oligarchs who made up Russia's wealthy elite.  The West has imposed sanctions on them in an effort to pressure Vladimir Putin

Abramovich made his fortune buying discounted state assets after the collapse of the Soviet Union and was one of the oligarchs who made up Russia's wealthy elite.  The West has imposed sanctions on them in an effort to pressure Vladimir Putin

Abramovich made his fortune buying discounted state assets after the collapse of the Soviet Union and was one of the oligarchs who made up Russia’s wealthy elite. The West has imposed sanctions on them in an effort to pressure Vladimir Putin

“We request that Abramovich be sanctioned urgently,” wrote members of Congress, including Rep. Tom Malinowski, co-chair of the Congressional Counter-Kleptocracy Caucus.

“His blood money is helping fuel Putin’s unprovoked and illegal war against Ukraine.”

It came after investigators at Boston’s State Street bank claimed that more than a billion dollars of his cash was funneled into the US through offshore companies between 2001 and 2016, BuzzFeed News reported.

And last week the government took a step, effectively barring one of Abramovich’s private jets from making international flights.

His $65 million Gulfstream G650 was on a list of 100 aircraft operated by Russian passenger and cargo carriers such as Aeroflot, AirBridge Cargo, Utair, Nordwind, Azur Air and Aviastar-TU.

Commerce Minister Gina Raimando said: “Today the Ministry of Commerce demonstrates the strength and scope of the actions we have taken in recent weeks in response to Russia’s brutal elective war against Ukraine.”

“We are publishing this list to inform the world – we will not allow Russian and Belarusian companies and oligarchs to travel with impunity in violation of our laws.”

Flight tracking data suggested the Gulfstream plane returned to Moscow last Tuesday, although on Friday it appeared to show that the plane was in Luxembourg.

Abramovich’s superyachts are also on the move — fleeing European waters to areas less likely to be hit by sanctions.

My Solaris, worth $560 million, was docked in Barcelona two weeks ago and the Eclipse, worth $704 million, was in the British Virgin Islands, but both have since arrived in Turkish ports.

.