Ukraine-Russia latest war: Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin territories hold referendums on Russia joining

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ROman Abramovich, the former owner of Chelsea Football Club, “played a key role” in securing the release of five British POWs in Ukraine.

The Russian, 55, welcomed John Harding, Shaun Pinner, Aiden Aslin, Dylan Healy and Andrew Hill on a jet that flew them from Russia to Saudi Arabia.

He gave each of the men an iPhone so they could call their families and even talk football with the men while they ate steaks on the flight to Riyadh.

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Mr Harding, a veteran of the British Army, said he did not recognize the Russian billionaire on the plane until Mr Pinner, a West Ham fan, pointed it out to him.

Mr Harding told The Sun: “Shaun said, ‘You really look like Roman Abramovich’ and he replied, ‘That’s because I’m him, sir.’ He couldn’t believe it.

“I joked that Shaun is a West Ham fan and we all laughed.”

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Read more: Roman Abramovich ‘played key role’ in release of Aiden Aslin and prisoners of war in Russia

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