Earlier this month, Roman Abramovich and several Ukrainian peace negotiators were reportedly suffering from symptoms of suspected poisoning after a meeting in Kyiv. These symptoms included eye irritation and peeling skin on the hands and face. No individual appeared to have experienced life-threatening issues, and all have since recovered.
Initially, this suspected attack was blamed on “hard-liners in Moscow who said they wanted to sabotage talks to end the war,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, too much time had passed by the time a German forensic team was able to perform examinations and none of the suspected poison was detected.
On March 28th, an American official stated that intelligence indicated the sickening of Abramovich and the Ukrainian negotiators was due to environmental factors, not poison. The US official said in a comment to Reuters, “The intelligence highly suggests this was environmental… eg, not poisoning.”
Roman Abramovich, a Russian billionaire with longstanding ties to President Vladimir Putin, became involved in attempts to end the war in Ukraine after Russia launched its invasion on February 24th. Abramovich has decided to continue to be involved in peace talks despite the incident at the March 3rd meeting in Kyiv.
Peace talks between Ukraine and Russia have failed to produce any tangible results. However, as reported by Al Jazeera, with “the civilian death toll mounting and Russia resorting to air raids and shelling attacks that are laying waste to large swaths of Ukrainian territory,” negotiating a ceasefire is essential. The UNHCR estimated that almost four million Ukrainians fled the country, more than 6.5 million are internally displaced, and the civilian death toll has surpassed 1,000. Unfortunately, peace negotiations are going to be difficult to broker, as Russia views any agreement with President Zelenskyy as a humiliation and would rather Ukraine be absorbed into the Russian state.
The actions Russian forces have taken against civilians by bombing Ukrainian hospitals and buildings housing children constitute war crimes. As such, the International Criminal Court stated that it would open an investigation into claims of Russian war crimes in Ukraine as quickly as possible. While it is understandable that direct foreign intervention may escalate the war further, the United States and Europe have a responsibility to give aid to Ukraine as much as possible. It is imperative that supplies like food, water, medical supplies are sent to those affected by the war and the shelling of civilian areas. Additionally, harsh sanctions need to continue to be put in place against Russia as a deterrent to further escalation. A peaceful resolution must be found to this conflict in order to prevent further destruction and loss of life.