Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he received signs of support from Russian businessmen, including oligarch Roman Abramovich.
The Chelsea FC owner was among several businessmen who told him they wanted to “do something” to de-escalate the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian President claimed.
Mr Zelensky claimed some businessmen had offered support in the hope of being excluded from sanctions.
During an interview with Russian journalists working for independent media outlets, Mr Zelensky said: “Some said that they were ready to help rebuild the country after the war.”
The tycoon, who has owned Premier League club Chelsea since 2003, was targeted in what the Government said was a “£15 billion sanctions hit”, with his assets frozen and a UK travel ban imposed.
The comments from Mr Zelensky follow reports that he urged US President Joe Biden not to sanction Mr Abramovich as he feels the oligarch might be able to help with Russian peace talks.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Ukraine’s leaders believe the billionaire could be a crucial go-between with Moscow.
“For the negotiations, and in the interest of them succeeding, it is not helpful commenting on the process nor on Mr Abramovich’s involvement,” a spokesperson for Mr Abramovich said in a statement.
“As previously stated, based on requests, including from Jewish organizations in Ukraine, he has been doing all he can to support efforts aimed at restoring peace as soon as possible.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said there is no guarantee sanctioned oligarchs like Mr Abramovich would be free to return to the UK after the Russian war with Ukraine ends.
Asked if Mr Abramovich could return once Russian troops had withdrawn, Ms Truss said: “No, I haven’t said that.
“Because I’m saying even if the war was to end – and I fear we are not near the end, at this stage – huge devastation has been caused, lives have been lost as a result of this war.
“And there will need to be a reckoning with all the people who supported Putin, including Abramovich.”
She said the UK was working with allies “in the G7 and beyond” to ensure oligarchs have “nowhere where it is legitimate for them to live their lifestyles, have their yachts or have their planes”.