Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, who acted as Russia’s unofficial envoy in talks with Ukraine, was told by President Vladimir Putin that he would “thrash” Ukraine, according to a report. The incident occurred when Abramovich handed a handwritten note from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Putin, according to a British daily The Times.
“Tell him I’ll thrash them,” The Times said in an exclusive report. The article was behind the paywall, but according to the small details available, the note detailed Ukraine’s conditions for ending the war.
Abramovich has received Ukrainian assistance in negotiations to end the war that began on February 24. The Timeshis plane took off from Istanbul to Moscow, where he met Putin and handed him a note, and then returned.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Monday that Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators experienced symptoms of suspected poisoning earlier this month after a meeting in Kyiv.
The WSJ report quoted people who knew of the development.
However, Ukrainian officials poured cold water over the report. Asked about the suspected poisoning, Ukrainian consultant Mykhailo Podolyak said, “There is a lot of speculation, various conspiracy theories.” Rustem Umerov, another member of the consulting team, urged the public not to trust “unverified information”.
An American official also dismissed the poisoning angle, saying that intelligence suggested an “environmental” reason for disgusting Abramovich and consultants.
Abramovich and Ukrainian consultants reportedly got out of danger.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin said that Abramovich played an early role in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine but the process is now in the hands of the negotiating teams of both sides. The two sides met in Istanbul today for the first face-to-face peace talks in more than two weeks.
The West has imposed heavy sanctions on Abramovich and other Russian millionaires, Russian companies and officials, in a bid to force Putin to withdraw from Ukraine.
Abramovich, whose international profile rose after he acquired Chelsea FC in 2003, has put the London football club up for sale after being imposed on sanctions.