According to sources, Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators suffered symptoms of suspected poisoning after meeting in Kyiv in early March.
The Russian oligarch and at least two senior members of the Ukrainian delegation developed symptoms including red eyes, constant and painful tearing and peeling of the skin on their faces and hands, sources familiar with the matter said Wall Street Journal.
The Independent It is understood Mr Abramovich was suffering from suspected poisoning, as reported, but that the incident has not stopped him from focusing on brokering negotiations between Russia and Ukraine while he is in dock in Turkey.
The Chelsea FC owner accepted a request from Ukraine in late February to help negotiate an end to Vladimir Putin’s invasion, just days after it began. The Kremlin said last week that it had played an early role in the peace talks but that the process is now in the hands of negotiating teams on both sides.
The sanctioned oligarch – who has repeatedly distanced himself from claims by the UK government and others that he is close to Mr Putin – is currently in Turkey where a new round of peace talks is set to resume this week
sources said the Wall Street Journal They blamed the alleged poisoning on hardliners in Moscow, who they said wanted to sabotage talks to end Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Mr Abramovich and Ukrainian negotiators, which include Crimean Tatar lawmaker Rustem Umerov, have now recovered and their lives are not in danger, according to the sources.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who met with Mr. Abramovich, is unaffected, they said. Mr Zelensky’s spokesman said he had no information about the alleged incident.
In response to the investigative news agency report Bellingcat said three members of the delegation attending the peace talks on the night of March 3 showed symptoms consistent with chemical weapons poisoning. One of the victims was Mr. Abramovich, it said on Twitter.
Accordingly, the Ukrainian MP Rustem Umerov took part in the negotiations Bellingcatalthough it was unclear if he was personally affected by the suspected poisoning.
Three members of the negotiating team retreated to an apartment in Kyiv later that night on March 3, reportedly feeling the first symptoms that did not abate until morning.
On March 4, the negotiating group drove from the capital to Lviv en route to Poland and then to the Turkish capital of Istanbul to continue informal negotiations with the Russian side. Bellingcat called.
Chemical weapons specialists told the outlet that the symptoms were most likely the result of poisoning with an undefined chemical weapon, with microwave irradiation being a different but less likely hypothesis.
The experts said the dosage and type of toxin used were probably insufficient to cause life-threatening harm and were likely intended to scare victims.
A source tellsThe guard that Mr Abramovich lost his sight for several hours before being treated in Turkey.
Mr Abramovich was asked by Ukraine last month for help in mediating his ancestry from Russia, where he amassed wealth during the post-communist privatization era of the 1990s.
Under Putin, Mr. Abramovich served as governor of the remote Arctic region of Chukotka in Russia’s far east before buying Chelsea in 2003.
Earlier this month, Mr Abramovich froze all his UK and EU assets, with the UK government saying he has had a close relationship with Mr Putin for decades.
Two of Mr Abramovich’s superyachts have docked in Turkey over the last week, with Ankara saying it opposes sanctions being imposed on Russian oligarchs by its NATO allies.
Last week, Mr Abramovich flew to Moscow from Istanbul to meet the Russian president and hand over a handwritten note from Mr Zelenskyy outlining the terms Ukraine would agree to end the month-long war, the report said The times.
Putin’s response was reportedly, “Tell him I’ll beat her up.”
Mr Zelensky has urged US President Joe Biden not to sanction Mr Abramovich because Kyiv believes he could be a key mediator with Moscow, a Ukrainian official has said Wall Street Journal last week.
The first in-person peace talks in more than two weeks are set to take place in Istanbul on Tuesday after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Mr Putin on Sunday.
Ukraine is ready to declare neutrality and offer security guarantees to Russia, including maintaining the country’s nuclear freedom, if Russia withdraws its troops, Zelenskyy said.
Ukrainian officials have downplayed the prospect of a major breakthrough in the negotiations but have hinted Moscow may be more willing to compromise after facing stiff resistance and heavy casualties.