Putin targets oligarchs as puppet pundits demand they pay for Ukraine

Abramovich should help with Ukraine war says Russian TV pundit

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Russian pundits have called for billionaire Roman Abramovich, the former owner of Chelsea Football Club, to “help our country” and channel some of his wealth into what they still call the special military operation in Ukraine.

Yury Shyvtkin, deputy chairman of Duma’s Defence Committee, and Russian state media tv presenter Olga Skabeyeva slammed Mr Abramovich for allegedly “gifting iPhones to Nazis”, referring to the Azov regiment that was captured by Russian forces in the Mariupol steel plant.

They called on the billionaire, as well as other oligarchs, to use their wealth to replenish weapons stocks on the front lines to ensure a “common victory” against Ukraine. The requests, however, are likely to fall on deaf ears as the US announced it would put in place new sanctions in the coming weeks targeting those that financially support the war effort. 

Mr Shyvtkin said: “First of all, let’s be honest, oligarchs are making strange comments about the special military operation. 

“I would like to look at the roles of Roman Abramovich, Oleg Deripaska, Vladimir Potanin and others. How are they providing for our Armed Forces? 

“Perhaps it is true they are gifting iPhones to Nazis. Some of them, I will not name any names. 

Ms Skabeyeva said: “But you have already named him. By ‘Nazis’ you mean the mean the video in the Ukraine media when this man, I mean Roman Abramovich, actively participated in freeing the Azov leaders from captivity. Is that what you mean?”

Mr Shyvtkin said: “That is exactly what I meant.” 

Ms Skabeyeva continued: “It was said that he either gifted them iPhones or gave them the opportunity to call their families.

“But, of course, this is not about iPhones. Who cares about that. But it would be nice if every one of us contributed, according to their capabilities and inclinations, so that all of us, having rolled up our sleeves, would work on the fronts that match our abilities, giving our all for the victory. 

“This should be the common victory and these are difficult times for our country. 

“If the rich people have such an opportunity, there is a whole list of what is lacking at the front. Why not help our country in this difficult time?” 

Commentators on Russian state television have been outspoken in their support of the operation in Ukraine and have routinely called for increased funding and even the use of nuclear weapons against the West. 

Recently, they have taken to naming oligarchs on their programme, calling on them to direct their funds towards weaponizing the Russian forces.  

And they have been heavily critical of those who have spoken out against the war, earning them the title of Putin’s puppets. 

Olga Skabeyeva, a longtime host of Russia-1, the nation’s most watched state-run programme, has been so aggressive in speaking out against Russian opposition that she has been nicknamed “The Iron Doll of Putin TV”. 

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But while oligarch’s may be fearful of publicly opposing the invasion, the announcement made by the US today that fresh sanctions will be imposed on supporters of the war will not encourage them to publicly fund it either. 

As a result of the “sham” referendums held by Russia in occupied regions of Ukraine, the US state department said it is now looking to the finance and energy sectors for future sanctions action.

“We will continue to work with allies and partners to bring even more pressure on Russia and the individuals and entities that are helping support its attempted land grab,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. “You can expect additional measures from us in the coming days.”

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said the measures would include penalties on individuals and entities both inside and outside of Russia that support the annexation.

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