Everything we know about the ‘poisoning’ of the kyiv peace talks

Roman Abramovich and Ukrainian peace negotiators experienced symptoms consistent with poisoning after a meeting in Kyiv in early March, we learned.

The Russian oligarch and at least two senior members of the Ukrainian delegation suffered eye and skin inflammation and eye pain, sources familiar with the matter said. the wall street journal.

Abramovich lost his sight for several hours before being treated at a clinic in Turkey, The Independent understand.

Here’s what we know so far.

When was the meeting, and who was there?

Negotiations in the Ukrainian capital took place in the afternoon of March 3 and continued until around 10 p.m.

Abramovich traveled between Moscow and kyiv for talks earlier this month because he accepted Ukraine’s request to help broker a peaceful end to Vladimir Putin’s invasion just days after it began. The Kremlin said last week that it had played an early role in the peace talks, but the process was now in the hands of the two sides’ negotiating teams. But a person close to the Russian billionaire said he had decided to continue to play a “limited role” in the peace talks despite the alleged poisoning. His late mother was from Ukraine.

Ukrainian MP Rustem Umerov and Crimean Tatar legislator Rustem Umerov were also present.

What happened to those affected by the alleged poisoning?

Abramovich and two other members of the negotiating team began to feel unwell after retreating to an apartment in Kyiv later that night. They suffered from inflammation and acute eye pain, according to Bellingcat. Mr. Abramovich is said to have lost his sight for several hours. They suffered from peeling skin on their faces and hands.

Symptoms persisted until morning.

The next day, the men drove from Kyiv to Lviv to Poland and then to a clinic in Istanbul, Turkey, for medical treatment.

All three are said to have recovered over the next week and their lives are not in danger.

How could they have been poisoned?

It is unclear exactly how the three men were affected. They were only consuming chocolate and water before symptoms appeared, according to Bellingcat. A fourth person who consumed it did not experience any symptoms.

What kind of poisoning could that have been?

Experts who reviewed the incident with remote and on-site examinations concluded that the symptoms were most likely caused by poisoning with an undefined chemical weapon. Other experts were unsure whether they were caused by a biological agent or an electromagnetic radiation attack, the WSJ noted.

Chemical weapons experts and a doctor said the symptoms were most consistent with variants of porphyrin, organophosphates or bicyclic substances, Bellingcat reported. But the lack of lab tests meant it was impossible to provide a definitive answer.

Who could have been responsible?

Victims said they did not know who might have had a stake in an attack. However, there has been speculation that hardliners in Russia may be behind the alleged poisoning in an effort to sabotage talks to end the war.

Since the dose and type of toxin used were probably insufficient to endanger life, the motive could have been to frighten the victims.

“It wasn’t meant to kill, it was just a warning,” said Christo Grozev, an investigator from the Bellingcat open source collective that concluded that a Kremlin team poisoned Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent in 2020.

What did Ukraine and Russia say?

Ukraine appears to play down the allegations.

Presidential spokesman Volodymyr Zelensky said he had no information about possible poisoning.

Other Ukrainian officials, including Umerov, dismissed the reports. He urged people not to trust “unverified information”.

Another negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak said: “There is a lot of speculation, various conspiracy theories.”

The country’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said in a television interview that “everyone is thirsty for news and sensations.” However, he added wryly: “I advise anyone who is going to negotiate with Russia not to eat or drink anything, [and] preferably avoid touching the surfaces.

The Kremlin has yet to comment.

Elsewhere, a US official said intelligence suggested an “environmental” reason for the illness of Abramovich and the negotiators. “For example, no poisoning,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity and did not give further details.

What happens next?

The first face-to-face peace talks in more than a fortnight are scheduled for Tuesday in Istanbul.

Ukraine is ready to declare neutrality and offer security guarantees to Russia, including keeping the country nuclear-free if Russia withdraws its troops, Zelensky said.

Ukrainian officials have played down the prospect of a major breakthrough but are cautiously optimistic about a compromise from Moscow, after seeing stiff resistance and heavy casualties.

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