Behind Vladimir Putin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine lies two substantial plans, first to remove the Volodymyr Zelenksy-led government from power and second to install a puppet government in Kyiv that cannot dare to join NATO or act against Russia. For the plan, Putin eyes a Russia-born Ukrainian oligarch as a perfect fit for Zelensky's position.
Viktor Medvedchuk looks to be Putin's potential choice as Ukraine's new head of state as he is so close to the Russian President that the oligarch chose Putin to be the godfather of his daughter. Medvedchuk, chairman of Ukraine's "Opposition Platform - For Life" party, has been a supporter of pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, reported the Newsweek.
Where is Medvedchuk?
Currently, Medvedchuk is confined to his compound in the north of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on house arrest over suspicion of treason after he faced accusations of supporting separatist forces.
But Putin's advances could take him to public light as the Russian President claims Ukraine commits genocide against ethnic Russians.
Jaro Bilocerkowycz, an expert on Ukraine and Russia with the University of Dayton, told the Newsweek that if Putin chooses someone for Zelenksky's position, Medvedchuk would potentially be his choice as. The expert also maintained that in case Putin does not choose Medvedchuk, the oligarch will certainly be the de-facto state head.
Medvedchuk has anti-Western and anti-European stances which makes him a perfect fit for the position when Putin is on the lookout for someone who will happily be his puppet and act as pro-Russia, far from the influences of NATO and the West. Besides these all, his personal connections with Putin add the highest weight to his candidacy for Zelensky's position.
Putin's Plan for Russian Economy
The Ukrainian oligarch also has involvement in petroleum projects and maintains strong relations with business leaders in Russia, a plus for Putin to scale up the Russian economy when it is battling the Western sanctions. Medvedchuk's connections indicate that he could help Moscow to tie Ukraine's economy to Russia.
Andrew Lohsen, a fellow in Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said that Medvedchuk had asserted control over a significant number of media resources, which is an added value for Russia.
However, he also maintained that it is an impossible task to consider him as the rightful leader of Ukraine. But Lohsen also cleared that Medvedchuk has certainly advantage from the Russian side to undermine support for Ukrainian sovereignty.
Invaluable For Propaganda
The Ukrainian oligarch potentially owned three television stations, however, those were closed last year over the orders of Volodymyr Zelensky. But certainly, Medvedchuk's media experience could help Russia as Moscow has been prevalent in the exercise of propaganda to root its narratives among people.
The US and the West should consider sanctions against Medvedchuk to curb his political influence, a call which experts embolden to make Putin choose a weaker figure for Kyiv's head if Russia succeeds in its Ukraine plans.
With such actions, Washington would send indications to Moscow that it is well aware of the plans of the Kremlin.