REPORT: Roman Abramovich And Ukrainian Diplomats Supposedly Poisoned After Peace Negotiations

(Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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A key Russian oligarch and multiple Ukrainian diplomats were allegedly poisoned around the time of early peace negotiations between Ukraine and Russia early this month.

Roman Abramovich, a sanctioned Russian billionaire and close confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and at least two Ukrainian negotiators began showing symptoms consistent with poisoning on the night of March 3, after participating in peace negotiations, according to The Wall Street Journal. The individuals reportedly experienced pain and redness in their eyes and peeling skin on the hands and face, sources familiar with the incident told The WSJ.

Blame for the alleged attack was reportedly directed at Russian hardliners seeking to sabotage negotiations. Abramovich has acted as an intermediary between Russian and Ukrainian leadership, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reportedly requested that President Joe Biden not sanction him.

The victims have since recovered and are not at risk of death, according to The WSJ, but the attack was seen as a warning not to further pursue peace talks. Christo Grozev, a Bellingcat investigator who helped investigate the attack, said experts were not able to inspect the men in time to determine the exact substance they had been allegedly poisoned with. (RELATED: Incredible Viral Videos Show An American Fighting In Ukraine)

The Kremlin, which has not commented on this incident, has previously assassinated political opponents by poisoning, or attempted to do so. In August 2020, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with the Russian nerve agent Novichok, nearly dying from the attack. In 2006, former KGB and FSB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who had become a vocal critic of Putin, was assassinated by poisoning. Former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned in an attempted assassination in the United Kingdom in 2018, and Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza has twice survived poisonings linked to the Kremlin.

Further peace talks, which Abramovich is involved in, are set to take place this week in Turkey. Thus far, the more than one-month-long invasion of Ukraine has resulted in more than 10,000 estimated deaths between Russian and Ukrainian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians.