British businessman ‘buys warplanes to help Ukraine fight Russia’

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Mohammad Zahoor with wife Kamaliya in 2018 (Sergey Gritsenko via Wikipedia Commons)
Mohammad Zahoor with wife Kamaliya in 2018 (Sergey Gritsenko via Wikipedia Commons)

A British businessman living in London has bought two warplanes to help Ukraine’s armed forces in the ongoing war against Russia, it is reported.

Multi-millionaire Mohammad Zahoor, who is married to a popular Ukrainian singer, has been involved in mobilising funds and aid and helping to resettle refugees from the country in the UK and other parts of Europe.

Mr Zahoor, 66, purchased the aircraft, believed to be jet fighters, after holding talks with Ukrainian officials. His wife, Kamalia, said in an interview with Ukrainian media that her husband was at first reticent about publicising his military assistance, but now “Zahoor has given me the green light to tell”.

As well as the warplanes, said Ms Zahoor, her husband is also currently engaged in constructing a £1m housing project for Ukrainian refugees in Germany.

Two Ukrainian officials said that they were aware of Mr Zahoor’s plans to donate the planes, but could not go into details due to reasons of security and confidentiality.

The Zahoors have been living in Hampstead in north London and the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, for a number of years. Kamaliya launched her musical career in England nine years ago.

In 2013 they appeared in Meet the Russians, a British reality show produced by Fox TV about wealthy people from Russia and the former Soviet Union living in London.

Mr Zahoor, who arrived in Ukraine as a student from Pakistan in the 1970s, is the founder and owner of the ISTIL Group, whose assets included, at one stage, a steel mill in Donetsk sold for an estimated £760m in 2009 to the Russian MP Vadim Varshavsky. He is also the former owner of the English-language Kyiv Post, which he bought the same year and sold in 2018.

Diplomatic sources say Mr Zahoor had clashed with some Ukrainian officials in the past after highlighting alleged malpractice in a defence contract.

In March, following the Russian invasion, Mr Zahoor said in an interview with Arab News: “This is time, actually, for us not to keep quiet. We have to take sides. I am openly taking the side of Ukraine because after seeing [reports in] western, Ukrainian and Russian media, I can see who is telling the truth.

“This is the time actually for everyone to speak up for Ukraine, otherwise every big country is going to swallow its next-door neighbour.”

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