Roman Abramovich 'negotiated humanitarian corridors and saved lives'

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich ‘negotiated humanitarian corridors from Mariupol and saved the lives of Ukrainian civilians’ Kyiv official says

  • David Arakhamia made the comments during an interview with Voice of America
  • Abramovich accepted a request to help negotiate an end to the Russian invasion
  • He had not previously been associated with creating humanitarian corridors
  • Comes as Russian forces directed their firepower at east and south of Ukraine

Roman Abramovich saved the lives of Ukrainian civilians by negotiating humanitarian corridors out of Mariupol and other besieged cities, an official has said.

David Arakhamia, a Ukrainian MP and Kyiv’s chief negotiator, made the comments about the Russian oligarch and former Chelsea Football Club owner during an interview with the US broadcaster Voice of America.

He said: ‘Most of the agreements were reached through him. He did a good job with regard to humanitarian corridors from Mariupol, Berdyansk, Zaporizhya, but could not help with the corridors from Bucha and Makarov, the north of Kyiv and Chernihiv regions.’

Abramovich accepted a Ukrainian request to help negotiate an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in March, however he suffered a suspected poisoning. 

Roman Abramovich saved the lives of Ukrainian civilians by negotiating humanitarian corridors out of Mariupol and other besieged cities, an official has said

He had not previously been associated with creating humanitarian corridors, The Telegraph reported. Abramovich has not commented.

Russian forces have directed their firepower at the east and south of Ukraine in recent weeks since failing in their bid to take the capital Kyiv after the lightning February 24 invasion.

The worst of the fighting continues to be in the eastern industrial Donbas region, with battles raging in villages outside the city of Severodonetsk, which Russia has been trying to seize for weeks.

In Lysychansk, the governor Gaiday said watching his home city, Severodonetsk, be shelled and people he knew dying was ‘painful’. 

Evacuees stand under a destroyed bridge as they flee the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, on March 7

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in the opening ceremony of new healthcare facilities in several regions of Russia, via video link in Saint Petersburg

Arakhamia added that Abramovich might be asked to set up a corridor out of the Azot chemical plant where 568 civilians, including 38 children, are sheltering in bunkers.

He said: ‘As soon as the opportunity arises, I will definitely call Abramovich to protect Ukrainian interests.’

Abramovich was forced to sell Chelsea Football Club, which he bought in 2003, as part of the economic net tightening around Moscow.

It comes as Britain’s top army general told his troops to prepare to fight and beat Putin’s armies in a European land war.

General Sir Patrick Sanders, who assumed overall command of the British Army this week, warned soldiers ‘we are the generation that must prepare the Army to fight in Europe once again’ as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine rocks global stability. 

General Sir Patrick Sanders has warned his troops to prepare to fight and beat Putin’s armies in a European land war

In a tub-thumping message to British troops, he wrote: ‘I am the first Chief of the General Staff since 1941 to take command of the Army in the shadow of a land war in Europe involving a continental power… The scale of the enduring threat from Russia shows we’ve entered a new era of insecurity.

‘It is my singular duty to make our Army as lethal and effective as it can be. The time is now and the opportunity is ours to seize.’

Putin taunted former Soviet states in Europe this week by declaring: ‘They are part of historic Russia’. 

Putin made the comments in response to a dramatic statement by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who sensationally declared he did not recognise the self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

Tokayev, sat metres away from the brooding Russian despot at the St Petersburg Economic Forum (SPIEF) yesterday, described the DPR and LPR as ‘quasi-state territories’.

‘We don’t recognise Taiwan, Kosovo, South Ossetia or Abkhazia… we apply this principle to the quasi-state territories, which in our view, are the Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics’, the Kazakh President said in a daring defiance of Putin’s war in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian President sat quietly, considering Tokayev’s comments, before appearing to deliver a calm but quietly menacing warning.

‘What is the Soviet Union?’ Putin asked rhetorically. ‘This is historic Russia.’

He went on to paint Kazakhstan as a nation friendly to Russia, but quickly added: ‘The same thing could have happened with Ukraine, but they wouldn’t be our allies.’

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