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SOCCER

Chelsea owner Abramovich helping Ukraine peace negotiations

Russian billionaire businessman Roman Abramovich has accepted a Ukrainian request to help negotiate an end to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Update:
Chelsea owner Abramovich helping Ukraine peace negotiations
IAN KINGTONAFP

Russian billionaire businessman Roman Abramovich, who owns Premier League club Chelsea, has accepted a Ukrainian request to help negotiate an end to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, his spokeswoman said.

"I can confirm 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," a spokeswoman said. "Considering what is at stake, we would ask for understanding as to why we have not commented on either the situation as such or his involvement."

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Abramovich, who is Jewish and has Israeli citizenship, was one of the most powerful businessmen who earned fabulous fortunes after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. The news of his involvement in talks was first reported by the Jewish News which said Ukraine had reached out through Jewish contacts to seek his help in seeking peace. It was not immediately clear what role if any Abramovich would have in talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials which began on Monday at the Belarusian border.

Ukraine calls for ceasefire and Russian withdrawal

Earlier the Ukrainian president's office said Ukraine's goal for the talks was an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine. The Kremlin has not said explicitly what its aim is in the talks.

On Saturday, Ambramovich ceded control of Chelsea to the "trustees of the club’s charitable Foundation" in move designed to safeguard the club's future and his own investments. Chelsea came under fire for releasing an official statement the following day, just hours before the team was due to play the EFL Carabao Cup final against Liverpool. That statement cited "the situation in Ukraine" but made no mention of Russia's invasion of the country or any offer to lend support.

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