Putin confidant Viktor Medvedchuk is back

In the fall, Putin exchanged his old acquaintance Viktor Medvedchuk for prisoners of war. Now the exiled Ukrainian could be part of a larger plan.

Putin confidante and Ukrainian opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk reports from exile.

Earlier this year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship for high treason. Now Medvedchuk has published an article in the Russian newspaper “Izvestia”. In it he apparently speaks of the creation of a Ukrainian government in exile to oppose Zelenskyy’s government. This is reported by the US think tank “Carnegie Endowment”.

Medvedchuk repeats Putin’s accusations against the West, accuses the “ungrateful Ukrainian public” of “selling out their Slavic brotherhood to the West” and reminds readers “that the industrialized Donbass region has long fed the rest of the country”. .

“His intrigues led to quarrels rather than victories”

The former leader of the pro-Russian party “Opposition Platform – For Life” is a key figure for Putin in relation to Ukraine. He was accused of treason in Ukraine in 2021 and placed under house arrest. In September 2022 he came to Russia as part of a prisoner exchange.

Still, it is doubtful whether Medvedchuk could become a unifying figure, even in pro-Russian Ukrainian émigré circles. Because Medvedchuk has “the reputation of a master of intrigue behind the scenes”, but has “never been particularly effective” in this regard, according to the Carnegie Endowment.

Since 2015, Russia has been trying to set up “a kind of Ukrainian government-in-exile” and this latest attempt is unlikely to “have any more success than previous efforts”. At best, this government-in-exile could take on the role of a kind of recruitment center recruiting people “who are supposed to work in the puppet administrations in the occupied territories of Ukraine.”

Resurrection could have unsettling significance

According to the Carnegie Endowment, this “recent revival of the old idea of a good Ukraine” shows that Russia is stuck in a political impasse. At least Zelenskyy refuses to meet the Russian demands and the West supports the Ukrainian armed forces with more and more arms supplies.

Medvedchuk’s return to the political stage could therefore also point to preparations for a major new offensive that Russia is reportedly planning. Medvedchuk could be set up as a political figure, a kind of bringer of peace, and thus spread the narrative of the “evil West” in Ukraine.

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