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Roman Abramovich is among seven oligarchs to be hit with an asset freeze and travel bans under brutal new UK sanctions unveiled today.

The government has announced that the owner of Chelsea FC will also be prohibited from transactions with UK individuals and businesses. The government could still grant him a licence to sell the club, but will need to be assured that he will not benefit financially and any proceeds would remain frozen.

Mr Abramovich’s one time business partner, Oleg Deripaska, has been hit with the same measures – as have Rosneft chief Igor Sechin and four more described as being in Putin’s ‘inner circle’.

Seven more oligarchs sanctioned by UK 

Roman Abramovich is one of seven Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the UK Government today. 

The Government estimates his wealth at more than £9billion and notes his stakes in steel giant Evraz, Norilsk Nickel and ownership of Chelsea FC.

‘He is one of the few oligarchs from the 1990s to maintain prominence under Putin,’ a Government spokesman said.

The other oligarchs sanctioned today are: 

  • Oleg Deripaska: Estimated wealth of £2billion and a multi-million-pound Uk property portfolio. Subject to US sanctions since 2018. Has stakes in En+ Group, a major extractives and energy company which owns UC Rusal, one of the world’s major aluminium producers.
  • Igor Sechin: Chief Executive of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company. The Government said he is ‘particularly close and influential ally of Putin’. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
  • Andrey Kostin: Chairman of VTB bank, the second largest bank in Russia. A ‘close associate of Putin’ who has ‘long supported Kremlin objectives through VTB Bank’. Net worth of £379 million. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
  • Alexei Miller: Chief executive of  of energy company Gazprom. Served under Putin when autocrat was mayor of St Petersburg. Already sanctioned by the US.
  • Nikolai Tokarev: President of the Russia state-owned pipeline company Transneft. Former KGB agent who served alongside Putin in East Germany. Already sanctioned by the US and EU.
  • Dmitri Lebedev: Chairman of Bank Rossiya, which is ‘widely considered to be the Kremlin’s private bank’. Sanctioned by the US in 2016.
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The Foreign Office said the Economic Crime Bill coming into force next week ‘will allow UK Government to move further and faster than ever on sanctions’.

Boris Johnson said: ‘There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine.

‘Today’s sanctions are the latest step in the UK’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies.’

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added: ‘Today’s sanctions show once again that oligarchs and kleptocrats have no place in our economy or society. With their close links to Putin they are complicit in his aggression.

‘The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands. They should hang their heads in shame.

‘Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not stop in this mission to ramp up the pressure on the Putin regime and choke off funds to his brutal war machine.’

The Foreign Office said the oligarchs have a collective net worth of around £15billion.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted that Chelsea FC will be able to operate under a ‘special licence’.

The team will be able to play fixtures and pay staff, but trading in players seems to be off the table.

Only ‘existing ticket holders’ will be able to attend matches.

It appears that means only season ticket holder, and away fans will not be permitted. 

There is also the prospect that Champions League games will be played effectively behind closed doors, as those tickets are often purchased separately from season tickets.

Merchandise sales are also expected to end. 

Ms Dorries said the aim was to ensure that Abramovich cannot ‘benefit from his ownership of the club’. 

The surprise move came as Defence minister James Heappey insisted the bombing of a maternity hospital in Ukraine was a war crime and called for Putin and Russian generals to be held to account.

Mr Heappey stressed that the West is gathering evidence that can be used in a future prosecution, but said in a round of interviews: ‘What you see on your TV screens is a war crime.’ 

The comments came as it was confirmed three people, including a child, died when warplanes bombed the hospital in besieged Mariupol while pregnant women gave birth in the basement.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has described the attack as an ‘atrocity’ and ‘the ultimate proof of genocide against Ukrainians’. 

The hospital, in the besieged city of Mariupol, was hit ‘several times’ by high-explosive Russian bombs – one of which missed the building by yards and left a crater two-stories deep, officials said. Other bombs scored ‘direct hits’, President Zelensky said, wounding at least 17 people.

Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy Prime Minister, said there can be ‘no doubt’ the hospital was deliberately ‘targeted’ by Russia in a chilling echo tactics used during the bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo while Putin’s men were fighting alongside dictator Basahr al-Assad’s troops. Moscow denies targeting civilian facilities. 

Roman Abramovich is among oligarchs to be hit with asset freeze and travel bans under new UK sanctions

Roman Abramovich is among oligarchs to be hit with asset freeze and travel bans under new UK sanctions

Roman Abramovich is among oligarchs to be hit with asset freeze and travel bans under new UK sanctions

Mr Abramovich’s one time business partner, Oleg Deripaska (pictured), has also been hit with the same measures

Nikolai Tokarev

Nikolai Tokarev

Igor Sechin

Igor Sechin

Nikolai Tokarev (left) and Igor Sechin have also been targeted by the UK government 

A woman injured in Russian shelling of Mariupol's maternity hospital stands outside wrapped in a blanket amid the carnage

A woman injured in Russian shelling of Mariupol's maternity hospital stands outside wrapped in a blanket amid the carnage

A woman injured in Russian shelling of Mariupol’s maternity hospital stands outside wrapped in a blanket amid the carnage

Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller

Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller

Dmitri Lebedev

Dmitri Lebedev

Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller (left) and Bank Rossiya chair Dmitri Lebedev (right) have been added to the UK list

VTB Bank president Andrei Kostin is now under the UK sanctions regime

VTB Bank president Andrei Kostin is now under the UK sanctions regime

VTB Bank president Andrei Kostin is now under the UK sanctions regime 

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted that Chelsea FC will be able to operate under a 'special licence'

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted that Chelsea FC will be able to operate under a 'special licence'

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted that Chelsea FC will be able to operate under a ‘special licence’

Sanctions block Abramovich’s sale of Chelsea FC 

Roman Abramovich’s attempt to sell Chelsea have effectively been blocked by the sanctions regime put in place today on him and six other oligarchs.

The West London club, the reigning European champions, is among UK assets of the mega-rich Russians to be frozen by the Government.

The rules put in place today mean they cannon make any money out of businesses they own in the UK, including from sales of shares, property and other assets.

They are also banned from travelling to the UK, with a recent law change making it illegal for Russian aircraft – private or commercial – to land here.

Russian ships, including private yachts, are also banned from UK ports. 

Additionally, UK citizens and firms based here are not allowed to do business with them.  

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said a special licence had been put in place for Chelsea that will ‘allow fixtures to be fulfilled, staff to be paid and existing ticket holders to attend matches while, crucially, depriving Abramovich of benefiting from his ownership of the club’.

‘I know this brings some uncertainty, but the Government will work with the league & clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended. Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them,’ she said.  

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Mr Abramovich is worth 10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150million Kensington mansion, a £22million West London penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world.

His two superyachts may already be out of reach. £430million Solaris was moored in Barcelona a week ago but is now off the Sicily coast, believed to be heading to Israel, where he holds citizenship. 

The £540million Eclipse is currently in open sea off the coast of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

In London, his staff are said to have been ready for viewings at his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150m, and a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22m.

Chelsea FC is his most valuable British asset, after the oligarch transformed its fortunes from outside challengers to Premier League giants with the help of Jose Mourinho and huge signings like Didier Drogba, so its sale will be a personal blow to the billionaire industrialist.

Labour’s Chris Bryant, using parliamentary privilege to avoid legal action, alleged the tycoon is selling his home and an apartment because he is ‘terrified of being sanctioned’, adding that he feared the government will soon run out of time to act.

Ms Dorries said on Twitter: ‘Our priority is to hold those who have enabled the Putin regime to account.

‘Today’s sanctions obviously have a direct impact on Chlesea & its fans. We have been working hard to ensure the club & the national game are not unnecessarily harmed by these important sanctions.

‘To ensure the club can continue to compete and operate we are issuing a special licence that will allow fixtures to be fulfilled, staff to be paid and existing ticket holders to attend matches while, crucially, depriving Abramovich of benefiting from his ownership of the club.

‘I know this brings some uncertainty, but the Government will work with the league & clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended. Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them.’

Ministers are in discussions with the Premier League over how the sanctions will affect fans planning to attend Chelsea games.

Existing already paid-for tickets for games at Stamford Bridge will be honoured but they will discuss ways of allowing away fans and others, including fans attending Champions League ties to attend without funnelling cash to the club.

Thomas Tuchel’s side are at home to Newcastle on Sunday before a European game in Lille next Wednesday.

A source told Mailonline: ‘Stamford Bridge is not going to be empty … we don’t expect them to play behind closed doors. It does mean there may be some empty seats but not an empty ground.’ 

The UK sanctions list now states that Mr Abramovich ‘is a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch’. 

‘ABRAMOVICH is associated with a person who is or has been involved in destabilising Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, namely Vladimir Putin, with whom ABRAMOVICH has had a close relationship for decades. 

‘This association has included obtaining a financial benefit or other material benefit from Putin and the Government of Russia. 

‘This includes tax breaks received by companies linked to ABRAMOVICH, buying and selling shares from and to the state at favourable rates, and the contracts received in the run up to the FIFA 2018 World Cup. 

‘Therefore, ABRAMOVICH has received preferential treatment and concessions from Putin and the Government of Russia.’ 

Earlier, Mr Heappey told Sky News of the Mariupol shelling: ‘What you see on your TV screens is a war crime. 

‘Clearly there is evidence to be gathered in which to prove it is a war crime, and Western countries are working together to make sure that evidence is gathered in the best way so people can be held to account.

‘What Putin is doing is not a war waged between two militaries. Right now he has besieged a number of Ukrainian cities and he has waged a war against Ukrainian civilians.’ 

Abramovich’s multi-billion assets sanctioned by UK government 

Roman Abramovich has today had at least £3.2billion of UK assets frozen, preventing him carrying a fire sale of Chelsea and his London homes.

Abramovich is worth 10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150m Kensington mansion, a £22m West London penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world.

His two superyachts may already be out of reach. £430million Solaris was moored in Barcelona a week ago but is now off the Sicily coast, believed to be heading to Israel, where he holds citizenship. The £540million Eclipse is currently in open sea off the coast of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

In London, his staff are said to have been ready for viewings at his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150m, and a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22m.

Chelsea FC is his most valuable British asset, after the oligarch transformed its fortunes from outside challengers to Premier League giants with the help of Jose Mourinho and huge signings like Didier Drogba, so its sale will be a personal blow to the billionaire industrialist.

Labour’s Chris Bryant, using parliamentary privilege to avoid legal action, alleged the tycoon is selling his home and an apartment because he is ‘terrified of being sanctioned’, adding that he feared the government will soon run out of time to act.

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He added on BBC Breakfast: ‘We ask ourselves the question how did this happen? Was it an indiscriminate use of artillery or missiles into a built-up area, or was a hospital explicitly targeted?

‘Both are equally despicable, both, as the Ukrainians have pointed out, would amount to a war crime.

‘So, what matters beyond the outrage of the fact that this has happened in the first place is to make sure all this is catalogued so when – and they surely will be – President Putin and everybody in the military chain of command beneath him – because war crimes are committed at every level not just the ultimate decisionmaker – people will be held to account for what they are doing in. It’s utterly despicable.’

Pressed on whether he thinks the attack constitutes a war crime, he replied: ‘Yes, if you deliberately target a piece of civilian infrastructure like a hospital, yes.

‘If you use indiscriminate artillery into an urban area without due regard for the reality, you could hit a protected site like a hospital, then that too in my view is.’

Many of the pregnant women present at the hospital were hiding the the basement at the time of the strike on the orders of hospital authorities – a move indicative of the harsh bombardment suffered by Mariupol’s citizens over the past week, and one which likely saved their lives.

Zelensky himself posted a video showing the badly damaged hospital buildings, filmed inside a destroyed ward room with its windows blown out and ceiling partially collapsed. More footage showed a car park covered in rubble and the smouldering wrecks of vehicles as injured families staggered into the freezing air while snow fell. 

‘Direct strike of Russian troops at the maternity hospital. People, children are under the wreckage. Atrocity! How much longer will the world be an accomplice ignoring terror? Close the sky right now! Stop the killings! You have power but you seem to be losing humanity,’ the President tweeted.

He then took to Telegram, where he released a video statement from the presidential palace in Kyiv in which he said the hospital strike ‘is the ultimate proof that what is happening is the genocide of Ukrainians’.

‘Europeans, you can’t say you didn’t see what is happening. You have to tighten the sanctions until Russia can’t continue their savage war,’ he said.

Abramovich is worth 10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150m Kensington mansion, a £22m penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world

Abramovich is worth 10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150m Kensington mansion, a £22m penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world

Abramovich is worth 10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150m Kensington mansion, a £22m penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world

The Foreign Office announced the new sanctions with top-trumps style images on social media

The Foreign Office announced the new sanctions with top-trumps style images on social media

The Foreign Office announced the new sanctions with top-trumps style images on social media

The UK sanctions list now states that Mr Abramovich 'is a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch'

The UK sanctions list now states that Mr Abramovich 'is a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch'

The UK sanctions list now states that Mr Abramovich ‘is a prominent Russian businessman and pro-Kremlin oligarch’

Here’s how YOU can help: Donate here to the Mail Force Ukraine Appeal

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Calling upon that human spirit, we are supporting a huge push to raise money for refugees from Ukraine.

For, surely, no one can fail to be moved by the heartbreaking images and stories of families – mostly women, children, the infirm and elderly – fleeing from the bombs and guns.

As this tally of misery increases over the coming days and months, these innocent victims of this conflict will require accommodation, schools and medical support.

Donations to the Mail Force Ukraine Appeal will be used to help charities and aid organisations providing such essential services.

In the name of charity and compassion, we urge all our readers to give swiftly and generously.

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‘What kind of country bombs hospitals? Is afraid of hospitals? Of a maternity ward? 

‘Was someone insulting Russians? Were pregnant women shooting in direction of Rostov? Was it the ”denazification” of a hospital? What the Russians did at Mariupol was beyond savagery.’

In a separate interview with Sky News, Zelensky added that Russian invaders want Ukrainians ‘to feel like animals’ by preventing them from accessing food or water, and implored NATO and the West to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

‘They want us to feel like animals because they blocked our cities… because they don’t want our people to get some food or water.

‘Don’t wait for me to ask you several times, a million times, to close the sky. You have to phone us, to our people who lost their children, and say ”sorry we didn’t do it yesterday.”  

Boris Johnson has condemned the strike as ‘depraved’ and vowed to step up support to the beleaguered Ukrainian military. 

‘There are few things more depraved than targeting the vulnerable and defenceless,’ the Prime Minister declared. 

‘The UK is exploring more support for Ukraine to defend against airstrikes and we will hold Putin to account for his terrible crimes,’ he added.  

Mr Johnson later on Wednesday committed to enacting the ‘maximum economic cost’ on Russia in wake of the bombing, while Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is expected to say aggression like Vladimir Putin’s must ‘never again’ be allowed to ‘grow unchecked’ in her speech tomorrow in Washington.  

Ms Truss will make comparisons between the Russian president’s actions and the World Trade Centre terror attack in 2001, and will urge the international community to change its approach to dealing with antagonistic world leaders.

The White House press secretary Jen Psaki also commented: ‘As a mother – I know a number of you are mothers – it is horrifying to see the barbaric use of military force to go after innocent civilians in a sovereign country.’

Mariupol’s city council said the hospital had suffered ‘colossal’ damage but did not immediately give a figure of the wounded and dead. 

The deputy head of Mr Zelensky’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said authorities are trying to establish the number of victims.

Ukrainian MP Dmitry Gurin told the BBC: ‘There are a lot of dead and wounded women. We don’t know about children or newborns yet.’ 

Video footage from the aftermath of the attack showed that large parts of the hospital had completely collapsed, while blood soaked mattresses were pictured lying in hallways. 

‘Russia committed a huge crime,’ said Volodymir Nikulin, a top regional police official, standing in the ruins. ‘It is a war crime without any justification.’  

Mariupol has been under heavy Russian bombardment for more than a week, with food, water and electricity cut off several days ago – with the Red Cross describing conditions there as ‘apocalyptic’. 

The head of the Ukrainian Red Cross said yesterday’s strike will likely cause a complete collapse of paediatric care in Mariupol, as much of the hospital’s equipment and the paediatric care wards were reduced to ashes. 

The aftermath of the Russia bombardment on the children and maternity hospital in Mariupol

The aftermath of the Russia bombardment on the children and maternity hospital in Mariupol

The aftermath of the Russia bombardment on the children and maternity hospital in Mariupol 

James Heappey said the West is gathering evidence that can be used in a future prosecution, but added in interviews: 'What you see on your TV screens is a war crime.'

James Heappey said the West is gathering evidence that can be used in a future prosecution, but added in interviews: 'What you see on your TV screens is a war crime.'

James Heappey said the West is gathering evidence that can be used in a future prosecution, but added in interviews: ‘What you see on your TV screens is a war crime.’

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from the maternity hospital

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from the maternity hospital

Ukrainian emergency employees and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from the maternity hospital

A woman outside the maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol

A woman outside the maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol

A woman outside the maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol

The wreckage of the maternity hospital after the Russian bombardment in Mariupol

The wreckage of the maternity hospital after the Russian bombardment in Mariupol

The wreckage of the maternity hospital after the Russian bombardment in Mariupol

Rescuers on the scene at a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol are locked in a race against time as they try to free survivors from the rubble after the complex suffered a 'direct hit' by Russian rockets yesterday

Rescuers on the scene at a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol are locked in a race against time as they try to free survivors from the rubble after the complex suffered a 'direct hit' by Russian rockets yesterday

Rescuers on the scene at a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol are locked in a race against time as they try to free survivors from the rubble after the complex suffered a ‘direct hit’ by Russian rockets yesterday

An injured pregnant woman walks downstairs in a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022

An injured pregnant woman walks downstairs in a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022

An injured pregnant woman walks downstairs in a maternity hospital damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022

An official death toll for the heinous attack has not yet been established but rescuers are working desperately to find and free those still trapped under the rubble with temperatures in the besieged city set to plunge to minus 4 degrees C overnight

An official death toll for the heinous attack has not yet been established but rescuers are working desperately to find and free those still trapped under the rubble with temperatures in the besieged city set to plunge to minus 4 degrees C overnight

An official death toll for the heinous attack has not yet been established but rescuers are working desperately to find and free those still trapped under the rubble with temperatures in the besieged city set to plunge to minus 4 degrees C overnight

A Russian attack severely damaged the children's hospital and maternity ward in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said. President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter that there were 'people, children under the wreckage' of the hospital and called the strike an 'atrocity'

A Russian attack severely damaged the children's hospital and maternity ward in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said. President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter that there were 'people, children under the wreckage' of the hospital and called the strike an 'atrocity'

A Russian attack severely damaged the children’s hospital and maternity ward in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said. President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter that there were ‘people, children under the wreckage’ of the hospital and called the strike an ‘atrocity’

The burning wreckage of a car is seen outside a destroyed children's hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been under heavy Russian bombardment for more than a week

The burning wreckage of a car is seen outside a destroyed children's hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been under heavy Russian bombardment for more than a week

The burning wreckage of a car is seen outside a destroyed children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, which has been under heavy Russian bombardment for more than a week

A Ukrainian soldier examines a huge crater caused by one of the Russian rockets, which fell just in front of a hospital building at the maternity hospital in Mariupol 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the strike as 'depraved' and vowed to step up support to the beleaguered Ukrainian military

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the strike as 'depraved' and vowed to step up support to the beleaguered Ukrainian military

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the strike as ‘depraved’ and vowed to step up support to the beleaguered Ukrainian military

Ukrainian citizens are pictured on the outskirts of Mariupol dropping bodies into a mass grave as the city’s inhabitants work to remove the dead amid brutal shelling from Russian troops

Ukraine has rejected most Russian evacuation routes because they lead to Russian soil or that of its ally, Belarus, while routes that Ukraine has proposed have come under bombardment. The only successful evacuation to take place so far has been from Sumy to Poltava (in green)

Local official Pavlo Kyrylenko confirmed the fears in a post on Facebook: The maternity ward in the city centre, the children’s ward and the therapy ward at the hospital – all destroyed in the Russian air raid.’

Just hours before the hospital was hit, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba warned that 3,000 babies were without food or medicines and begged for a humanitarian corridor to allow them to flee. 

Moscow had promised a ceasefire in the city today so civilians could be evacuated, but failed for the fourth time to keep its word – a move Kyrylenko said ‘crossed the line of humanity’ before declaring Russians should ‘stop calling yourselves human beings.’

Residents of Mariupol were pictured on Wednesday dumping bodies into mass graves dug on the outskirts of the city in a desperate attempt to remove the dead amid the sustained Russian bombardment. 

It is not the first time that Russian airstrikes have targeted hospitals. While fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad in Syria in 2016, Putin’s generals were accused of ‘deliberately and systematically’ blowing up hospitals as a way of weakening the city of Aleppo ahead of a ground assault. 

Observers have suggested that Russia is now using a Syria-style battleplan against Ukraine after its early precision strikes failed.

The Ukrainian Healthcare Center, a think-tank based in the country, says that between the outbreak of fighting on February 24 and yesterday, their team documented 42 cases of Russian forces attacking either healthcare facilities or medics in order to deliberately provoke a ‘humanitarian crisis’.

Hospitals had been struck in every theatre where Russian forces were operating, the think-tank said, including Donetsk, Luhansk, Mariupol, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, Zhytomyr, Zaporizhzhia and Mykolaiv.

‘The humanitarian catastrophe is a part of Russia’s hybrid war. [It] intends to spread panic, create a flow of refugees at the borders and force the Ukrainian government to surrender,’ said Pavlo Kovtonyuk, co-founder of the think-tank.

The bombing took place during what was supposed to be a ceasefire in Mariupol so that civilians could evacuate. It marks the fourth time a so-called ‘humanitarian corridor’ out of the city has failed because Russian forces opened fire. 

The mayor of Izyum, to the east of Kharkiv, said evacuations that were supposed to be underway there yesterday also had to stop because Russians were bombing the escape route. But in Sumy, a short distance away, some civilians had managed to make it out. Successful evacuations also took place in Enerhodar, in the south, with women and children able to leave.

It is feared the evacuations are simply a precursor to Russia stepping up its bombardment of the cities to wear down dogged Ukrainian defenders before rolling in troops and tanks to capture them. CIA Director William Burns, briefing Congress on Putin’s state of mind Tuesday, warned the ‘angry and frustrated’ despot is ‘likely to double down and try to grind down the Ukrainian military with no regard for civilian casualties.’ 

Giving an update on the military situation yesterday afternoon, Ukrainian commanders said Russian units continue to try and surround the capital Kyiv with attacks taking place to the west and north-east of the city, with several highways blocked.

New footage released on Wednesday purported to show Russian armour just 13 miles from Kyiv as the invaders pushed through the town of Irpin. 

Fighting also raged close to the city of Sumy in an attempt to surround Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, commanders said. Battles also broke out around the city of Mykolaiv in the south, as Russians attempted to push out from Kherson towards Odessa but were turned back. 

Ukrainian commanders also said Russian military police had rounded up 400 activists protesting against the invasion in the occupied city of Kherson – as the long arm of Vladimir Putin’s police state reached across the border to grab people on foreign soil.  

Russia’s defence ministry meanwhile acknowledged for the first time on Wednesday that some conscripts had been sent to fight on the frontlines in Ukraine, just days after Putin promised that only professional soldiers would be sent in. 

Some associations of soldiers’ mothers in Russia had raised concerns about a number of conscripts going incommunicado at the start of what Kremlin calls a ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine, suggesting they could have been sent to fight despite a lack of adequate training. 

The revelation comes just one week after Russia’s parliament passed a law imposing a prison term of up to 15 years for spreading intentionally ‘fake’ news about the military.

‘Unfortunately, we have discovered several facts of the presence of conscripts in units taking part in the special military operation in Ukraine. Practically all such soldiers have been pulled out to Russia,’ the defence ministry said, promising to prevent such situations in the future.

Chelsea FC is BANNED from selling match tickets and merchandise, slapped with a transfer ban and could face points deduction 

Chelsea FC was today banned from selling match tickets or signing new players and must close its stadium shop after Roman Abramovich was added to the UK’s sanctions list.

The £9.4billion Russian oligarch, who has close ties to Vladimir Putin, has been prohibited from transactions with UK individuals and businesses – meaning his current to sell the West London club looks impossible.

However, ministers could allow him to apply for a licence to sell the club, with a sale possible as long as he does not benefit financially, MailOnline understands.  

Chelsea’s status as a ‘significant cultural asset’ means it has been granted a special licence to continue playing, but Abramovich will be deprived of any profits.

The club has been banned from selling home and away tickets, with only fans who have already bought tickets – including 28,000 season ticket holders – still allowed to attend games.

There is also the prospect that Champions League games will be played effectively behind closed doors, as those tickets are often purchased separately from season tickets. 

The licence prohibits Chelsea from spending more than £20,000 on any away game travel, raising serious logistical questions for its Champions League game in Lille next Wednesday. The play Norwich away tonight and Newcastle at home on Sunday.

A source told Mailonline: ‘Stamford Bridge is not going to be empty … we don’t expect them to play behind closed doors. It does mean there may be some empty seats but not an empty ground.’

Chelsea will not be able to agree any new contracts, preventing it from engaging in the summer transfer market, but existing staff, stadium stewards and players will still be paid. It can also continue to receive TV broadcast payments and provide food and drink at matches.

The club – which today marks its 117th birthday – cannot sell any merchandise itself, but retailers who already hold stock can continue to do so, as long as none of the money ends up in Chelsea’s hands. 

The licence to continue operating will last until May 31, but can be ‘varied, revoked or suspended’ at any time. If the club were to end up in administration, they would receive a nine point penalty.  

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the aim was to ensure that Abramovich cannot ‘benefit from his ownership’. The oligarch’s name was chanted by Chelsea fans during a minute’s applause for Ukraine at Burney on Saturday, leading to widespread condemnation. 

Abramovich has overseen the most successful period in Chelsea’s history, winning 21 trophies – including five Premier League titles and the Champions League twice.

Roman Abramovich will not be allowed to sell Chelsea, while unprecedented extra measures have been taken to ensure he cannot profit from its activities

Roman Abramovich will not be allowed to sell Chelsea, while unprecedented extra measures have been taken to ensure he cannot profit from its activities

Roman Abramovich will not be allowed to sell Chelsea, while unprecedented extra measures have been taken to ensure he cannot profit from its activities

Abramovich has overseen the most successful period in Chelsea's history, winning 21 trophies - including five Premier League titles and the Champions League twice

Abramovich has overseen the most successful period in Chelsea's history, winning 21 trophies - including five Premier League titles and the Champions League twice

Abramovich has overseen the most successful period in Chelsea’s history, winning 21 trophies – including five Premier League titles and the Champions League twice 

The ticket page of the Chelsea FC website is currently down, with a message saying it is undergoing 'scheduled maintenance'

The ticket page of the Chelsea FC website is currently down, with a message saying it is undergoing 'scheduled maintenance'

The ticket page of the Chelsea FC website is currently down, with a message saying it is undergoing ‘scheduled maintenance’ 

Chelsea's matchday store was shut today after the government announced sanctions that include banning it from selling any merchandise

Chelsea's matchday store was shut today after the government announced sanctions that include banning it from selling any merchandise

Chelsea’s matchday store was shut today after the government announced sanctions that include banning it from selling any merchandise 

A Chelsea fan making a last minute purchase at the club shop today. Other retailers with existing stock can still sell it, as long as the proceeds do not end up in Chelsea's coffers

A Chelsea fan making a last minute purchase at the club shop today. Other retailers with existing stock can still sell it, as long as the proceeds do not end up in Chelsea's coffers

A Chelsea fan making a last minute purchase at the club shop today. Other retailers with existing stock can still sell it, as long as the proceeds do not end up in Chelsea’s coffers 

A new licence allows the club to continue playing all its fixtures due to its status as a ‘significant cultural asset’, but only season ticket holders will be allowed to attend games at Stamford Bridge (pictured) 

Today’s news has left fans of the club reeling, with one declaring it ‘the end of Chelsea as we know it’ – while rivals mocked the club, saying ‘Stamford Bridge is falling down’.  

‘It’s the end of Chelsea as we know it’: Stunned supporters fear the worst after Abramovich is sanctioned 

By Dan Ripley for MailOnline

Chelsea fans were today left fearing the worst though as the club faces a rocky and uncertain future.  

On social media, there were plenty of concerned fans fearing that the club in its current running would on longer continue, and feared darker  times ahead. 

They said: ‘Yeah this is it. The end of Chelsea as we know it. Was fun as long as it lasted.’

The news coincides with the day the club celebrate their 117th birthday and fans noted how the there have been better ones for the Blues.  

‘This is turning out to be a really s*** birthday for the club.’, one supporter reflected. 

Another supporter feared it will spark the end of the club, fearing the sanctions could be hanging around the club for a long time, while sarcastically congratulating those that claimed Abramovich shouldn’t have just sold the club as quick as he could.

They claimed: ‘Chelsea being given the death penalty basically. And no, these sanctions won’t be lifted anytime soon so this will be the new reality. Congrats to whoever advised Roman not to sell last week.’ 

Not all Chelsea fans chose to look at the negatives though, with one fan believing that with the club being given a its ‘significant cultural asset’ tag it could be allowed a special type of sale to keep the club functioning. 

‘We’ll get the special dispensation for the sale. There will be no ‘death’ of Chelsea,’ they responded. 

 

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Although the shape of Chelsea’s long-term future has naturally been thrown into doubt, but Government ministers were quick to insist any damage would be limited.

Nadine Dorries said on Twitter: ‘Our priority is to hold those who have enabled the Putin regime to account.

‘Today’s sanctions obviously have a direct impact on Chelsea and its fans. We have been working hard to ensure the club & the national game are not unnecessarily harmed by these important sanctions.

‘To ensure the club can continue to compete and operate we are issuing a special licence that will allow fixtures to be fulfilled, staff to be paid and existing ticket holders to attend matches while, crucially, depriving Abramovich of benefiting from his ownership of the club.

‘I know this brings some uncertainty, but the Government will work with the league and clubs to keep football being played while ensuring sanctions hit those intended. Football clubs are cultural assets and the bedrock of our communities. We’re committed to protecting them.’  

Abramovich has changed the face of British football in his time as Chelsea owner, leading the Blues to 21 trophies in 19 years in a clean sweep of all global competitions.

But that era has been brought to a halt amid Vladimir Putin and Russia’s war in Ukraine. 

Today, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy welcomed Abramovich had ‘at last’ been sanctioned. 

The Labour MP said in a statement: ‘At last! This is the right decision. But it should not have taken the Government weeks.

‘Too few oligarchs linked to Putin’s rogue regime have so far faced sanctions from the UK Government. We are lagging far behind allies in the EU and the US.

‘It is right that, under pressure from Labour, the Government U-turned to strengthen sanctions legislation. 

Ministers must now move faster to continue to close the sanctions gap.’ 

Today a Chelsea Supporters’ Trust spokesman said: ‘The CST notes with concern the Government’s statement regarding the owner.

‘Supporters must be involved in any conversation regarding ongoing impacts on the club and its global fan base.

‘The CST implores the Government to conduct a swift process to minimise the uncertainty over Chelsea’s future, for supporters and for supporters to be given a golden share as part of a sale of the club.’       

Abramovich's name was chanted by Chelsea fans during a minute's applause for Ukraine at Burney on Saturday, leading to widespread condemnation

Abramovich's name was chanted by Chelsea fans during a minute's applause for Ukraine at Burney on Saturday, leading to widespread condemnation

Abramovich’s name was chanted by Chelsea fans during a minute’s applause for Ukraine at Burney on Saturday, leading to widespread condemnation 

Abramovich has changed the face of British football in his time as Chelsea owner, leading the Blues to 21 trophies in 19 years in a clean sweep of all global competitions

Abramovich has changed the face of British football in his time as Chelsea owner, leading the Blues to 21 trophies in 19 years in a clean sweep of all global competitions

Abramovich has changed the face of British football in his time as Chelsea owner, leading the Blues to 21 trophies in 19 years in a clean sweep of all global competitions

British billionaire Nick Candy was the latest high-profile business magnate to throw their hat into the ring for Chelsea’s sale, amid a host of suitors for the Champions League holders.

Swiss tycoon Hansjorg Wyss and American investor Todd Boehly were also in the running, with more than 10 credible parties understood to have been compiling bids.

The Chelsea squad will continue to prepare for Thursday’s Premier League clash at Norwich as normal, but everyone at the club will now set about examining the details of the current situation.     

Mr Abramovich’s one time business partner, Oleg Deripaska, has been hit with the same sanctions – as have Rosneft chief Igor Sechin and four more described as being in Putin’s ‘inner circle’. 

Boris Johnson said: ‘There can be no safe havens for those who have supported Putin’s vicious assault on Ukraine.

‘Today’s sanctions are the latest step in the UK’s unwavering support for the Ukrainian people. We will be ruthless in pursuing those who enable the killing of civilians, destruction of hospitals and illegal occupation of sovereign allies.’

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss added: ‘Today’s sanctions show once again that oligarchs and kleptocrats have no place in our economy or society. With their close links to Putin they are complicit in his aggression.

‘The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands. They should hang their heads in shame.

‘Our support for Ukraine will not waver. We will not stop in this mission to ramp up the pressure on the Putin regime and choke off funds to his brutal war machine.’ 

The Foreign Office said the oligarchs have a collective net worth of around £15billion.  

Mr Abramovich is worth 10.4bn ($12.5bn), according to Forbes, and owns a £150million Kensington mansion, a £22million West London penthouse, and more than £1.2bn of yachts, private jets, helicopters and supercars based in Britain and around the world.

His two superyachts may already be out of reach. £430million Solaris was moored in Barcelona a week ago but is now off the Sicily coast, believed to be heading to Israel, where he holds citizenship.

The £540million Eclipse is currently in open sea off the coast of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.

In London, his staff are said to have been ready for viewings at his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150m, and a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22m.

Source: dailymail

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