Roman Abramovich is acting as a ‘peacemaker’ in the Russian war in Ukraine as he avoids Western sanctions in Turkey.
The Chelsea FC owner has reportedly been jetting between Istanbul, Moscow and Kyiv to relay messages between Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky.
But when handed a note from the Ukrainian president outlining peace terms, the Russian despot reportedly erupted with fury.
Abramovich has been trying to rescue his reputation after being slapped with sanctions by the UK and EU over his closeness to Putin.
His assets have been frozen across Britain and the Continent and he started a fire sale of London property as well as Chelsea football club.
But his yachts and jets, which are worth hundreds of millions of pounds, remain out of bounds as they dodge sanctioned waters and airspace.
Meanwhile Zelensky reportedly pleaded with President Joe Biden for the US to hold off bringing measures against the oligarch due to his role in negotiations.
Roman Abramovich (left) and producer Alexander Rodnyanski (right) attend a RuArts Foundation cocktail party in Sochi, Russia, in 2017
The Chelsea FC owner has been jetting between Istanbul, Moscow and Kyiv to relay messages between Vladimir Putin (pictured) and Volodymyr Zelensky
Zelensky (pictured) reportedly pleaded with President Joe Biden for the US to hold off bringing measures against the oligarch due to his role in negotiations
Abramovich left Ataturk airport in Istanbul on a private Hawker 800XP jet last Wednesday, heaving across the Black Sea towards Sochi.
Its flight tracker went dark near the city of Mineralnye Vody, with the plane later popping up leaving Vnukovo airport in Moscow and returning to the Turkish capital.
The oligarch had flown in to meet Putin and hand him a handwritten note by Zelensky outlining Ukraine’s peace terms position.
According to the Times, the Russian president said to the oligarch: ‘Tell him I will thrash them.’
He returned to Istanbul and linked up with Ukrainian politician Rustem Umerov, who is said to be acting as Kyiv’s negotiator.
They met at five-star hotels in the Turkish capital, having been set up by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.
And they appear to be making progress with future face-to-face talks set to continue this week.
Kalin told the newspaper Hurriyet last weekend they were ‘close to agreement’ on key issues on Nato, demilitarisation and protected status for the Russian language.
But there are still differences over the future of Crimea – which Russia annexed in 2014 – and Donbas, which has mostly been occupied during the current conflict.
Oligarch Abramovich is pictured at Ben Gurion international airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel, on March 14
Abramovich’s luxury lifestyle is being squeezed by EU and UK sanctions – and now the US has moved to prevent his Gulfstream plane from making international flights
Kalin floated the idea that Crimea and Donbas be held by Moscow under a long-term lease like Britain had over Hong Kong from 1898 to 1997.
Putin is believed to be considering the idea but his fury at his military’s failures and hatred of Zelensky are said to be holding him back.
Abramovich and Umerov have visited the Ukrainian President in war-torn Kyiv after travelling on private jets routed through Warsaw, Poland.
The businessman has been flying on one owned by a Turkish firm due to his being under EU sanctions.
He is one of at least 20 oligarchs in Turkey as they toe the line between Putin and Western restrictions.
He has two of his yachts moored in Bodrum on the south west coast despite the presence of Ukrainian protesters.
Turkey has not sanctioned Abramovich and appears to have allowed him to help in the negotiations surrounding the war.
Insiders said he was determined to draw the war to an end after seeing the horrors in Ukraine, where his mother Irina was born.
Meanwhile another set of negotiations in Turkey were being held between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers.
Sergey Lavrov and Dmytro Kuleba met in Antalya on March 10, with Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu overseeing the chat that ultimately failed.
Abramovich’s Gulfstream – like the one pictured here – is valued at about $65 million and is effectively barred from international travel, according to the Department of Commerce
He also met with ex-German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to try to broker peace with Putin earlier this month.
They are believed to have met at one of the Russian capital’s luxury hotels where the former premier was staying, according to multiple sources.
The billionaire oligarch entered and left via a side door to avoid being spotted, according to German newspaper Bild.
The meeting was believed to have been in the same suite where Schröder’s wife, Soyeon Schröder-Kim, prayed for peace with the Kremlin on Instagram.
The talks lasted ‘several hours’ and later in the evening Schröder is said to have met with Putin at the Kremlin.
No further details were released but Reuters said an insider told them the oligarch wanted to find a way to stop the conflict.
Abramovich who is a Russian–Portuguese–Israeli billionaire, was close to the Kremlin during the reign of Boris Yeltsin.
Schröder’s wife, Soyeon Schröder-Kim, posted a picture of herself praying for peace with the Kremlin in the background on Instagram. This is believed to be where Roman met her husband (right with Putin)
He is said to have been the first person to recommend Putin to Yeltsin as his replacement.
During Putin’s time in power, Abramovich was the governor of the Chukchi Autonomous Okrug for eight years.
After Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the UK imposed sanctions on Abramovich, who has been the owner of Chelsea for almost 20 years since buying the club in 2004.
The west London team is now for sale and is currently under the hammer in a bidding process.
Abramovich has pledged to write off Chelsea’s £1.5billion debt and the bidding frenzy for the club could see the eventual deal hit £3billion.
The Russian billionaire made his fortune buying up discounted state assets after the collapse of the Soviet Union and owns billions of pounds pf assets in the UK.
In the past month he has been hit by a string of sanctions in the UK and EU due to his close relationship with Putin, and scrambled to divest before the asset freeze hit.