Three Ukrainian Peace Negotiators showed signs of poisoning after meeting their Russian counterparts earlier this month, including Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, who has been enlisted to facilitate discussions.
Sources told The Wall Street Journal that members of the group developed red eyes, constant and painful tearing, and peeling skin on their faces and hands soon after their March 3 meeting.
The report was corroborated by the investigative journalism website Bellingcat, which added that the symptoms subsided over the next week and their lives are not in danger.
Chemical weapons experts told Bellingcat that, based on the likely toxin and dosage used, the act was intended to intimidate the victims instead of cause permanent harm.
A source with direct knowledge of the matter told The Guardian that Abramovich lost his sight “for several hours” and required treatment in Turkey.
Abramovich’s camp told the Journal it’s unclear who may have targeted the group.
BBC also confirmed the reports, and noted that Abramovich traveled between Moscow and Kyiv for “several rounds of talks” at the start of the month.
Ukrainian negotiators were unwilling to confirm the incident. Rustem Umerov, one member of the Ukrainian team, told Reuters that people should be wary of “unverified information.” Another negotiator, Mykhailo Podolyak, said “there is a lot of speculation, various conspiracy theories.”
Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine are scheduled to resume in Turkey this week.