According to the media outlet, Abramovich and Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman played an essential part in negotiations between the two camps. Abramovich did a bit more than just take part in negotiations: he also lent one of his custom private jets for the occasion. Neither report makes a note of which jet was used, but John Harding, who served as medic with the 2nd Battalion of the Azov Regiment and was captured in May, says it was like a dream they didn’t dare believe was true.
Harding and four other Brits, other prisoners and a security crew flew from Russia to the Saudi capital Riyadh. The Brits then boarded a British Airways flight to Heathrow, London, but it was the first part of the trip that was more memorable, since it was onboard Abramovich’s private jet. Abramovich was also present, Harding tells The Sun, though he made no attempt to make himself noticeable. In fact, one of the other guys recognized him and casually remarked that he bore a resemblance to the now-disgraced billionaire.
Abramovich handed the five British iPhone 13s to call home and let their families know they were on their way. He also made sure that they were “treated like royalty,” and that they were served a lavish dinner, including canapes, beef and rice, steak, shawarma, pudding and tiramisu. He spent some time chatting with them about football.
The way Harding sees it, sanctions against Abramovich should be lifted, if only for his most recent gesture and his reported involvement in the negotiations. “He’s a legend. We absolutely love him and I’m so grateful for his efforts,” Harding says.
As of the time of press, Abramovich is on sanctions lists in the UK, the EU, and the U.S., but he’s been able to take most of his movable assets to friendly territories. These assets include two of his private jets, a Gulfstream G650ER estimated at $60 million and a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner believed to be one of the world’s most expensive, at a reported $350+ million.