Roman Abramovich, the former owner of the Chelsea FC soccer team, in recent weeks has been serving as an impromptu diplomat as he works to convey messages between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Abramovich, a fabulously wealthy Russian businessman, is currently attempting to avoid Western sanctions on his wealth by residing in Istanbul, Turkey. Aside from his business endeavors, Abramovich is well known for his close relationship with Putin.
From his residence in Turkey, Abramovich has been acting as a “peacemaker,” according to the Daily Mail, as he flies back and forth between Moscow and Ukraine communicating with Putin and Zelenskyy.
Last Wednesday, Abramovich left his Istanbul residence aboard a private jet for Moscow.
The oligarch flew into the Russian capital to meet with Putin and give him a handwritten note from Zelenskyy that outlined Ukraine’s terms for peace.
In response to this, Putin is reported to have said, “Tell him I will thrash them.”
After meeting with Putin in Moscow, Abramovich returned to Istanbul, where he met with the Ukrainian politician turned negotiator Rustem Umerov.
In Turkey, Abramovich and Umerov were assisted in negotiations with Ibrahim Kalin, the spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Kalin suggested that Ukrainian officials make a deal with their Russian counterparts in which Crimea and Donbas be held under a long-term lease — similar to the situation between Britain and China regarding Hong Kong.
Putin is reportedly considering the agreement, but his intense frustration with his military’s lack of success and disdain for Zelenskyy are holding him back.
Abramovich is one of several Russian oligarchs seeking refuge from Western sanctions in Turkey. He currently has two of his superyachts moored in Bodrum, a city on the country’s southwest coast.
Abramovich, in particular, has been able to work around sanctions from the Turkish government, despite his close relationship with Putin, because of his utility and willingness to participate in and assist with peace talks.
Previous peace talks hosted by Turkey between Russian and Ukrainian coalitions reportedly failed.
This experience is not unique, however.
Efforts to secure peace are proving to be increasingly difficult as the conflict drags on.
Leadership in the Israeli government has also run into trouble trying to advocate for peace.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with Zelenskyy over the phone in mid-March and urged him to accept Putin’s conditions for peace, including an immediate cease to military action, enshrining geopolitical neutrality in the Ukrainian constitution, officially recognizing Crimea as Russian territory, and recognizing Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.
Zelenskyy was not agreeable to these terms.