Roman Abramovich is attempting to broker peace between Russia and Ukraine, the Chelsea owner’s spokesperson has confirmed.
The Russian-Israeli billionaire handed “stewardship and care” of Chelsea to the club foundation’s trustees on Saturday, in a move aimed to protect the Stamford Bridge club.
But now the 55-year-old is trying to help bring an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I can confirm that 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,” Abramovich’s spokesperson told the PA news agency.
“Considering what is at stake, we would ask for your understanding as to why we have not commented on neither the situation as such nor his involvement. Thank you.”
Ukrainian film director and producer Alexander Rodnyansky also confirmed Abramovich’s involvement, insisting the Chelsea owner was the only person to respond to calls for help.
Rodnyansky has claimed that representatives from Ukraine’s government have expressed gratitude for Abramovich’s attempts at help.
“I can confirm that the Ukrainian side have been trying to find someone in Russia willing to help them in finding a peaceful resolution,” said Rodnyansky.
“They are connected to Roman Abramovich through the Jewish community and reached out to him for help.
“Roman Abramovich has been trying to mobilize support for a peaceful resolution ever since. Although Roman Abramovich’s influence is limited, he is the only one who responded and taken it upon himself to try.
“If this will have an impact or not, I don’t know, but I am in contact with Zelensky’s staff myself, and know that they are grateful for his genuine efforts.”
Abramovich stepped back from day-to-day running of Chelsea on Saturday night.
He will retain ownership of Chelsea but has handed all decision making to the west London club’s charitable foundation trustees.
That leaves Bruce Buck as the Blues’ most senior figure.
Manager Thomas Tuchel insisted after Sunday’s Carabao Cup final penalty shoot-out loss to Liverpool that nothing would change in his role on a daily basis at Chelsea.
Tuchel will continue to report into director Marina Granovskaia and first team technical director Petr Cech.
“During my nearly 20-year ownership of Chelsea FC, I have always viewed my role as a custodian of the club, whose job it is ensuring that we are as successful as we can be today, as well as build for the future, while also playing a positive role in our communities,” read Saturday’s statement from Abramovich.
“I have always taken decisions with the club’s best interest at heart. I remain committed to these values.
“That is why I am today giving trustees of Chelsea‘s charitable Foundation the stewardship and care of Chelsea FC.
“I believe that currently they are in the best position to look after the interests of the club, players, staff, and fans.”
Abramovich’s step backwards will not have any bearing on any possible UK government sanctions, but was a decision understood to have been taken solely in Chelsea‘s interests.
Labour MP Chris Bryant claimed in the House of Commons on Thursday that the UK government should seize Abramovich’s assets and remove the 55-year-old from Chelsea‘s ownership.
Abramovich did not apply for a renewal of his UK work visa in 2018, leading to a period of time where he was rarely seen in London.
In October 2021, Abramovich visited Stamford Bridge for a Say No To Anti-Semitism event, in support of Chelsea‘s long-running campaign against racism and hatred.
Abramovich then attended Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea in action in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United in November, and was on hand in Abu Dhabi when the Blues won the Club World Cup final on February 12.
Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003 and has help turn the Blues into one of Europe’s most successful club sides.
Chelsea have won 19 major titles since Abramovich took control of the west Londoners.