Who is Roman Abramovich? Russian Oil Oligarch Next Target of U.S. Sanctions

Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich has become the latest target of U.S. sanctions as a result of Russia's ongoing war with Ukraine.

According to CNBC, a judge in New York authorized a warrant on Monday that allowed the Department of Justice to seize two jets owned by Abramovich. Reuters reported that Abramovich was charged with flying the two planes to Russia without a license, which was in violation of restrictions the U.S. placed on Russia due to its ongoing war with Ukraine.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, prompting the U.S. and other Western nations to impose numerous sanctions on the Russian economy, as well as Russian oligarchs such as Abramovich.

Abramovich is most widely known as the previous owner of the English Premier League's Chelsea Football Club. However, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Abramovich was ordered to sell the team after the U.K. imposed sanctions on him and several other Russian oligarchs.

Roman Abramovich
Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich had two jets seized on Monday as the U.S. continues to sanction Russia due to its war with Ukraine. Above, Abramovich attends a meeting with representatives of the business community and business associations at the Kremlin, in Moscow on December 19, 2016. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty

"In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the club as I believe this is in the best interest of the club, the fans, the employees, as well as the club's sponsors and partners. The sale of the club will not be fast-tracked, but will follow due process," Abramovich said in a statement on March 5, ESPN reported.

In a statement announcing the sanctions, the U.K. government said, "Those newly-sanctioned by the U.K. include Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea Football Club, worth more than £9 billion."

According to the Washington Post, Abramovich, 55, was born in Russia, but is reportedly a citizen in Russia, Portugal and Israel.

Following the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Abramovich purchased Sibneft, a state-run oil company for approximately $250 million in 1995, the BBC reported. According to the BBC, Abramovich then sold the oil company back to the Kremlin for $13 billion in 2005.

Abramovich was later elected governor of Russia's northeast region of Chukotka in 2000, the Washington Post reported.

While Abramovich's exact connections to Russian President Vladimir Putin are unclear, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously said that Abramovich and other Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the government were "connected to the Putin regime."

In late February, just a few days after Russia invaded Ukraine, a spokesperson Abramovich confirmed to Bloomberg that the oligarch "was contacted by the Ukrainian side for support in achieving a peaceful resolution and that he has been trying to help ever since."

According to Forbes, Abramovich currently has a net worth of over $8 billion.

Newsweek reached out to the Department of Justice for comment.