Progress at Russia-Ukraine Peace Talks; Russian Billionaire, Ukrainian Negotiators Suffer ‘Suspected Poisoning’

Russia agreed to cut back operations near Kyiv in ceasefire talks Tuesday. A Russian billionaire and Ukrainian negotiators suffered suspected poisoning symptoms after meeting for peace talks earlier in March.


The Russian military announced it would “fundamentally” reduce military operations near Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv amid peace talks in Istanbul Tuesday.

  • In turn, Ukraine promised accepting a form of neutral status where the country would not join alliances like NATO, but would have security guarantees akin to NATO and offered compromises on Donbas and Crimea, Ukrainian territory illegally seized by Russia.
  • United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” to allow refugees to get out of harm’s way and for aid to be delivered into Ukraine.
  • Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, the owner of FC Chelsea, and two senior Ukrainian negotiators suffered suspected poisoning symptoms after meeting for peace talks earlier in March according to reports from the Wall Street Journal, Bellingcat, and Reuters. The Ukrainian government and US intelligence downplayed the reports.
  • Abramovich and the Ukrainian negotiators suffered symptoms including painful eye irritation and peeling skin on their faces and hands, and Abramovich was blinded for several hours. The Wall Street Journal’s sources alleged Kremlin hard-liners were behind the attack in an attempt to sabotage peace talks. 


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The New York Times reported Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky could meet in the near future once a draft peace agreement was concluded.
  • CNN covered US assessments of a “major” military shift by Russia as it moved forces away from Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv.
  • The Guardian called the suspected poisonings “a familiar plot” while conceding the truth may never be known.



  • The full report from the Wall Street Journal on the suspected poisonings is worth reading in its entirety.
  • Fox News covered Ukrainian intelligence’s release of the personal information of more than 600 alleged Russian spies spread throughout Europe.
  • Commentary covered Biden’s gaffes on his trip to Europe last week, saying “Joe Biden’s big mouth is becoming a liability.”

Author’s Take

The alleged poisonings of Roman Abramovich and senior Ukrainian officials have not yet been confirmed. However, this is not the first time Russia has been suspected of poisoning Putin’s enemies. The Wall Street Journal recalled the 2004 poisoning of Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko, whose face was left permanently disfigured from the attack. In 2018, the United Kingdom blamed the Kremlin for a nerve-agent attack against Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer, that injured three and killed a British civilian.

The Guardian’s reporting highlighted two more suspected Russian poison attacks. Alexander Litvinenko died a slow and agonizing death in 2006 after drinking polonium-laced tea. In 2020 the FSB, the successor to the notorious Soviet-era KGB, was accused of poisoning Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny who only survived after being medivacked to Germany.

Like in the viral I Think You Should Leave sketch, if it walks like the hot dog car guy, talks like the hot dog car guy, and crashes its car into a store like the hot dog car guy…

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© Dominic Moore, 2022