Was Roman Abramovich poisoned - and why is he involved with peace talks between Ukraine and Russia?

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The Oligarch and two Ukrainian negotiators were supposedly poisoned in a meeting earlier this month

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich is said to have been supposedly poisoned while attending peace talks in Kyiv earlier this month.

Mr Abramovich and two other Ukrainian negotiators are said to have experienced “suspected poisoning symptoms” after meeting to discuss possible peace between Ukraine and Russia.

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The Chelsea FC owner hit the headlines earlier this month after the UK sanctioned him and froze his assets as the sanctions list was expanded to include more Russian individuals and entities.

The new information comes after it was accused that Russia could turn to using chemical weapons in the conflict.

What happened to Roman Abramovich?

Mr Abramovich attended peace talks with Ukrainian negotiators on 3 March.

Negotiators included Ukrainian MP Rustem Umerov.

Mr Abramovic, Mr Umerov and a third negotiator reported symptoms consistent with poisoning after the meeting had taken place.

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This included red eyes, painful and teary eyes and peeling skin.

A spokesperson for Mr Abramovich confirmed that the oligarch had recovered from his symptoms, with investigative website Bellingcat confirming that both the negotiators had also recovered.

The site said: “Abramovich, along with another Russian entrepreneur, had taken part in the negotiations alongside Ukraine’s MP Rustem Umerov. The negotiation round on the afternoon of 3 March took place on Ukrainian territory, and lasted until about 10pm.

“Three members of the negotiating team retreated to an apartment in Kyiv later that night and felt initial symptoms - including eye and skin inflammation and piercing pain in the eyes - later that night. The symptoms did not abate until the morning.

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“The next day the group of negotiators drove from Kyiv to Lviv on the way to Poland and then Istanbul, to continue informal negotiations with the Russian side. A Bellingcat investigator was asked to help provide an examination by chemical weapons specialists.

“Based on remote and on-site examinations, the experts concluded that the symptoms are most likely the result of intentional poisoning with an undefined chemical weapon.

“An alternative less likely hypothesis was use of microwave irradiation. The symptoms gradually subsided in the course of the following week.”

Was Roman Abramovich poisoned?

While it was accused that Russia could turn to using chemical weapons, such as poison, in the Ukraine war.

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Bellingcat reported that those who had been affected displayed symptoms “consistent with poisoning with chemical weapons”.

The website later said that the dosage and toxin allegedly used by Russia was not intended to be “life-threatening” but was “most likely was intended to scare”.

However, the claims have been rubbished by an unnamed US official, who said that the symptoms were likely due to “environmental” factors.

They said : “The intelligence highly suggests this was environmental. E.g., not poisoning.”

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The Kremlin has flatly denied the claims that a toxin was used to poison Mr Abramovich the the two negotiators.

However, since the incident, Ukrainian negotiators have been advised against eating or drinking anything in future peace talks as a result of the suspected poisoning.

Ukraine foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “I advise anyone going for negotiations with the Russian federation not to eat or drink anything and preferably, to avoid touching any surface.”

Why is Roman Abramovich in peace talks?

Mr Abramovich is said to have attempted to broker several peace talks between Ukraine and Russia during the war so far.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has even asked the US to hold off on sanctioning the businessman after stating that he could play a key role in peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow.

President Zelensky said on Sunday that he had offered help in trying to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine.

The Kremlin had previously confirmed that Mr Abramovich had attended early peace talks.

On speaking about his condition, Mr Abramovich’s spokesperson confirmed that he is to continue trying to broker peace between the two nations.

On Tuesday 29 March, he was spotted at peace talk negotiations in Istanbul.

The oligarch was seen speaking to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is mediating talks in the Turkish capital.

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