Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner who put the club up for sale, was among a group of Ukrainian peace negotiators with symptoms of suspected poisoning after a meeting in Kyiv earlier in the month, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Abramovich has been trying to help Ukraine during Russia's invasion of the country that began late in February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told reporters on Sunday. Zelenskyy said he was helping with the "humanitarian convoy taking people out of Mariupol" that failed. The oligarch has been between Moscow, Lviv and other negotiating venues in his work.
After a meeting in the Ukranian capital of Kyiv, Ambramovich and at least two senior members of the Ukrainian team "developed symptoms that included red eyes, constant and painful tearing, and peeling skin on their faces and hands," per the WSJ.
The conditions of those impacted, including Abramovich and Crimean Tatar lawmaker Rustem Umerov, have reportedly improved and their lives are not in danger. Via the WSJ:
Western experts who looked into the incident said it was hard to determine whether the symptoms were caused by a chemical or biological agent or by some sort of electromagnetic-radiation attack, the people familiar with the matter said.
It is not clear who might have targeted the group, but some believe it is people who want to sabotage talks to end the war.
Abramovich ceded stewardship of Chelsea
Abramovich announced on Feb. 26 he was ceding stewardship of the Premier League club to its charitable foundation. He said in a statement he believed they were in the "best position to look after the interests of the Club, players, staff, and fans."
Days afterward he changed directions and said he was ready to sell the club as it was in its best interest. He purchased Chelsea in 2003. The news came amid growing talks of sanctions by the British government against wealthy Russians following the country's invasion of Ukraine. Abramovich and Russian president Vladimir Putin are very close.
Following reports recently that the Russian oligarch was helping Ukraine, Zelenskyy confirmed it by describing his work as "part of a sub-group from the Russia's side" in negotiations to end the war. He did not describe the exact role.
Billionaire businessmen throughout Russia are reportedly suggesting help for Ukraine and ready to push money into the country after the war.
"I am sure they are not coming from a patriotic point of view. It's just a loss of the comforts of life that they are used to," Zelenskyy said, via the Wall Street Journal over the weekend. "And the situation in that sense is pretty dire at the moment so they are looking for a solution."
Zelenskyy reportedly asked the US not to sanction Abramovich because of his potential help in the negotiations. The U.S. treasury dropped its plans.