Israel eyes UK-frozen billions from Chelsea sale

London has pledged to spend money seized from sanctioned Russian businessman Roman Abramovich exclusively in Ukraine.

The British government has been asked to spend an estimated $3 billion of money seized from sanctioned businessman Roman Abramovich in Israel instead of Ukraine, The Telegraph reported on Tuesday. The money came from the sale of Chelsea Football Club, which was owned by the businessman. He himself had pledged the proceeds to victims of the conflict in Ukraine.

With the billions untouched, alternative spending proposals have been put forward, according to sources cited by the newspaper. One insider claimed that Abramovich was concerned that his influence with Moscow would be eroded if the money went to Ukraine.

The source told The Telegraph that spending money on humanitarian issues in Israel in the wake of the deadly October 7 raid by the Palestinian militant group Hamas would resolve the impasse. Previously, Abramovich also suggested using it to help victims of the February earthquakes in Turkey, according to the report.

Media: The money from the sale of Chelsea was not given to Ukraine

Other sources said Israel led discussions about a possible transfer of funds without Abramovich’s knowledge. Russian-born Jewish businessman A “The Big Giver” In Israel, so “The Israelis asked the UK…whether they would consider granting a license to any of its assets, not just Chelsea, to donate them for reconstruction in Israel.” The outlet quoted a person familiar with the matter as saying.

“My understanding is that the UK government has said an emphatic ‘no’ to Israel.” The source added.

Abramovich holds citizenship in Russia, Israel and Portugal. The latter prompted London to involve the European Union in dealing with its confiscated funds. A joint statement issued by the UK and the European Commission in May said the proceeds from the sale of Chelsea would be spent “Exclusively” Inside Ukraine.

The billionaire acted as a mediator between Moscow and Kiev on several occasions, and was seen at Turkey-backed peace talks in March 2022, which resulted in a draft truce.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson then derailed the emerging agreement by demanding that the Ukrainian government do so “Just make war” This was confirmed by Ukrainian MP David Arakhamiya, leader of the ruling party’s parliamentary bloc, in an interview last week.

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