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Oligarchs in appeal to stop the bloodshed

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Mikhail Fridman, the Ukrainian-born founder of the Moscow-based Alfa Group multinational, told staff in a letter that the war was driving a wedge between two Slav peoples.

Mr Fridman, who is Russia’s 11thrichest man worth more than £11billion, said: “This crisis will cost lives and damage two nations who have been brothers for hundreds of years.

“While a solution seems frighteningly far off, I can only join those whose fervent desire is for the bloodshed to end. I’m sure my partners share my view.”

Oleg Deripaska urged peace talks to begin “as fast as possible”.

The founder of Russian aluminium giant Rusal, and worth £3billion, said: “Peace is very important.”

Another Moscow billionaire said the war “is going to be catastrophic in all senses: for the economy, for relations with the rest of the world”.

Evening Standard owner and crossbench peer Evgeny Lebedev used his paper to appeal to Vladimir Putin.

He wrote: “As a British citizen I ask you to save Europe from war.

“As a Russian patriot I plead that you prevent any more young Russian soldiers from dying needlessly.”

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