The Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich was poisoned along with Ukrainian negotiators, it has been claimed.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Vladimir Putin ally and Chelsea FC owner was hit by symptoms after a suspected poisoning at a meeting in Kyiv earlier this month.
Abramovich, and two senior Ukrainian officials, are said to have developed peeling skin on their faces and hands, red eyes, and constant and painful tearing, the paper reported.
Quoting ‘people familiar with the matter’, it added that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has met with Abramovich, was not been affected.
The lives of the Chelsea owner – who has been sanctioned by the UK government – and two male peace negotiators are not thought to be in danger from the apparent poisoning, blamed on an ‘unidentified chemical weapon’.
The incident is likely to raise serious safety questions about the continuation of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine and President Zelensky’s involvement.
Experts believe the suspected attack was intended to scare its victims, rather than cause life-threatening damage.
Widespread reports have previously suggested Russian forces are attempting to assassinate Zelensky, but it is unclear who the target of the alleged poisoning was.
Abramovich has previously passed a handwritten note from Zelensky to Putin and is widely believed to be acting as a go-between for the two leaders.
Russia has been widely blamed for a series of poisonings around the world, including a Novichok incident in Salisbury, the death of Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko and near fatal poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
The investigative media group Bellingcat said the latest incident took place overnight from March 3 to 4, with three people experiencing ‘symptoms consistent with poisoning with chemical weapons’, including the Russian oligarch turned negotiator Abramovich.
That was ten days before he was spotted waiting for a private jet at an Israeli airport on Monday, March 14.
‘Abramovich, along with another Russian entrepreneur, had taken part in the negotiations alongside Ukraine’s MP Rustem Umerov’, Bellingcat tweeted.
The site said the three men had only consumed water and chocolate – while another man who ate and drank the same things did not experience symptoms.