UK sanctions Chelsea owner Abramovich over Russia’s war in Ukraine

Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich is the latest Russian oligarch to be added to the UK’s sanctions list following the invasion of Ukraine.

The move halts the tycoon’s plan to sell Chelsea, and means Abramovich will have “his assets frozen, a prohibition on transactions with UK individuals and businesses, a travel ban and transport sanctions imposed,” the UK government said in a statement.

“There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Abramovich was added to the sanctions list with six other individuals including his one-time business partner, industrialist Oleg Deripaska, the UK said.

The sanctioned individuals are both banned from travelling to the UK and unable to do business with British citizens and companies.

But given the “significant impact,” the move will have on Chelsea, the government has issued a licence to allow matches and other football-related activity at the club to continue.

Abramovich has a net worth of £9.4 billion (€11.2 billion), the UK government said, adding that “he is one of the few oligarchs from the 1990s to maintain prominence under Putin”.

Labour leader Keir Starmer had criticised Johnson for not sanctioning Abramovich’s UK-based assets.

Amid mounting pressure, Abramovich had promised to sell the football club and donate the net proceeds to benefit victims of the war in Ukraine.

Western powers have said they would target Russian tycoons as part of their sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

The latest Russians to be sanctioned by the UK on Thursday included Igor Sechin, chief executive of Rosneft, a Russian state oil company, Alexei Miller, CEO of energy company Gazprom, and Nikolai Tokarev, president of the Russia state-owned pipeline company Transneft.

Andrey Kostin, chairman of Russia’s second-largest bank, VTB, and Dmitri Lebedev, chairman of the Board of Directors of Bank Rossiya, were also sanctioned by the UK.

All of the oligarchs, besides Abramovich, had previously been sanctioned by the United States.