Putin launched a military invasion of neighbouring Ukraine on Thursday and the conflict reached the suburbs of Kyiv in the early hours of Friday morning, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirming reports of multiple Russian missile strikes on the capital overnight.
The actions taken by Putin have been widely condemned by the West, with the UK government imposing their ‘most punishing sanctions’ to target Russian elites.
Chelsea owner Abramovich was not among their list of targets, however, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson froze hundreds of British-based Russian assets in response to the invasion.
But there have been calls for the Premier League billionaire to be sanctioned too, with Labour MP Chris Bryant dramatically urging the government to strip Abramovich of his ownership of Chelsea after citing a document linking him to ‘corrupt activity’.
There were suggestions that Abramovich, along with a host of other Russian oligarchs based outside the country, flew back to Moscow on Thursday, though the 55-year-old’s daughter may have landed him in hot water with Putin following a post on Instagram.
Sofia Abramovich, the third oldest of the Chelsea owner’s seven children, shared a post on her Instagram stories which declared that Putin, not the Russian people, wanted the war with Ukraine.
The image added that ‘the biggest and most successful lie of the Kremlin’s propaganda is that most Russians stand with Putin’.
A further message accompanying the post from ‘Russia Reality’ read: ‘Since the western media has been talking a lot lately about the fact that Putin wants to invade Ukraine or something, which is totally nuts, thought it might be a good time to remind that Russia is not Putin.
‘He and his friends are occupiers and don’t represent the Russians because Putin has won an election at most like once in all history, and that was a long time ago, so no talks about true legitimacy. Peace to Russians and to Ukrainians.’
Nearly 1,400 people in Russia were arrested on Thursday after demonstrating against the invasion of Ukraine and more demonstrations are expected across the country.
Speaking in parliament on Thursday, Labour MP Chris Bryant said of Abramovich: ‘Surely Mr. Abramovich should no longer be able to own a football club in this country?
‘Surely we should be looking at seizing some of his assets, including his £152million home? And making sure that other people who’ve had tier one visas like this are not engaged in malign activity in the UK.’