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Putin’s Man in Ukraine: Who is Victor Medvedchuk?

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Screenshot 2022 04 16 at 10.40.58
Kremlin.ru via Wikimedia Commons

Termed by some as ‘Putin’s main man in Ukraine’, Victor Medvedchuk has long been a prominent member of the Ukrainian of Parliament. A member of the recently proscribed Opposition Platform – For Life he had been under house arrest in his Kyiv residence, only to have recently disappeared and then re-captured again by the Ukrainian authorities. In light of this Ukrainian President Zelenskyy suggested that Medvedchuk be exchanged for Ukrainian prisoners of war taken by Russia. But what is the background of Victor Medvedchuk and why does Zelenskyy consider him to be of such importance to the Russians?

The Early Background of Victor Medvedchuk 

Medvedchuk’s early career in the Soviet era began in the field of law, having notably been appointed to defend the poets Yuri Lytvyn and Vasyl Stus against charges of ‘anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda’ against the state. Both, however ended up losing their defences with Stus for example being sentenced to ‘10 years of forced labour and five years of exile’ (later dying in solitary confinement as a result of a hunger strike).

This perhaps gives some insight into the early background of Medvedchuk as being associated with Moscow and the Soviet state in the 70s and 80s. This legal expertise and experience however continued beyond the fall of the Soviet Union and Ukrainian independence in 1991. 

In 1992 for instance he started his own legal firm called BIM and was the President of the Ukrainian Bar Association from 1992-2006. Thus, he was well established in the early Ukrainian political establishment, and this is likewise demonstrated through his friendship with Leonid Kravchuk (the first Ukrainian President).

Rising Political Power

From 2002-2005, Medvedchuk served as chief of staff to the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma and this is where he began to develop a relationship with President Putin in Russia. According to a TIME article, the administration in which Medvedchuk served was strongly aligned, both economically and politically with Russia: a state of affairs which incentivised Medvedchuk to closer ties with Putin. For instance, Medvedchuk allowed Putin to be the godfather of his newborn child.

Medvedchuk therefore became a central figure in the pro-Russian elements of the Ukrainian administration. He later managed the campaign of a future pro-Russian president: Victor Yanukovych in 2004, but faced major anger in ensuing pro-Western ‘Orange Revolution’ protests where Medvedchuk was accused of rigging the vote for Yanukovych. However after Yanukovych lost a later repeat election, Medvedhcuk became less prominent, despite Yanukovych’s later victory in 2010. In spite of this Medvedchuk retained heavy political influence.

Having set up his own political party, i.e. the Opposition Platform For Life, and set up three media organisations (which was estimated to be worth £421 million in 2021) Medvedchuk was a major pro-Russian force in Ukrainian politics, and was even the envoy for the Minsk accord negotiations (an attempted peace deal between Russia and Ukraine over the War in the Eastern part of Ukraine, i.e. the Donbas). 

2022 War and Medvedchuk’s Fall From Grace

Despite being pro-Russian, Medvedchuk has disagreed with Putin’s analysis that Russia and Ukraine are one nation. However, prior to the war, Western intelligence suggested that he may be Russia’s pick to lead a puppet government in Ukraine if the invasion was to go successfully. Indeed, last year Ukrainian authorities had started investigations against Medvedchuk for potential treason, and he was recently kept under house arrest.  

Likewise, his party (the Opposition Platform For Life) was proscribed by the Ukrainian government during the war, and Medvedchuk’s multi-million dollar media assets frozen. Though Medvedchuk escaped house arrest ‘for 48 days’ he was recently recaptured and used by Ukrainian President Zelenskyy as a negotiating tool for freeing Ukrainian prisoners of war in Russia.

Indeed, Zelenskyy posted a picture of the recaptured Medvedchuk on Telegram, where he donned a military uniform and sat in handcuffs. Medvedchuk has therefore become the face of a Russian ‘enemy within’ in Ukraine, his background and history as a close Putin ally coming to bite him in the face of a war for Ukraine’s existence.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Daily Brief

First Grain Ship Departs Ukraine After Six Months of Russian Blockade

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Odesa pristav
  • The first shipment of grain departed the port of Odesa on Monday after Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports for the last six months trapped around 20 million metric tons of wheat and corn.
  • Russia recently made a deal with Ukraine, brokered by the UN and Turkey, allowing grain exports to resume, appeasing fears of a global food supply crisis and rising prices.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba celebrated the shipment, calling it a “day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.”
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was more hesitant to celebrate the shipment, stating “it is too early to draw any conclusions and make any forecasts” and he wants to “see how the agreement works and whether security will be really guaranteed.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Concerns Rise As US Teeters on the Brink of Recession

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US Stock Market Investing in the United States
  • The US economy declines for the second quarter in a row, causing, what other countries would consider, an economic recession. 
  • The prices for groceries, gas, and other basics are rising at the fastest pace since 1981. The US Central Bank is quickly trying to raise borrowing costs in order to cool the economy and ease the prices on goods, but with the contraction, at the annual rate of 0.9% in the 3 months to July, many are still getting concerned. 
  • President Biden struggles to convince the public that the economy is sound, with the unemployment rate at a low 3.6%. But with inflation in the US hitting 9.1% in June, the fastest price appreciation in 4 months, consumer spending has slowed at an annual rate of 1%. 
  • Many other countries, such as China and the UK, have been hit harder by the surge in energy prices and the War in Ukraine, causing risks from abroad. Other countries are facing much more serious problems and once they’re hit, their problems can spill over and affect the US. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Russia-Ukraine

Russia cuts Germany’s Gas Supply causing Prices to Soar 

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  • Over the course of the Russian-Ukrainian War, Russia began to slowly cut off Germany’s gas supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. 
  • Before the war, over half of Germany’s gas came from Russia. By the end of June it was reduced to a quarter of its normal captivity, and now it operates at less than a fifth of it. 
  • Russia’s energy firm Gazprom has stated that this need to cut off Germany’s gas supply was due to maintenance work on a turbine that is needed. Critics have disagreed, claiming that Russia is using it’s gas as a ploy to cause terror to Europe. 
  • The cut of Gas supply to Germany and other central European countries has caused gas prices to rise almost 2%, causing the trade to close to a record high similar to that of when Russia invaded Ukraine. 
  • While Germany scrambles to find a solution to this, Poland states it will be fully independent from Russia by the end of the year in order to avoid blackmail from Russia.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Russia Limits Gas Supply to Germany

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Black Sea port of Theodosiya panoramio
  • Gazprom, a major Russian energy provider, has stated it will reduce the supply of gas to Germany by half via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline due to repair work. 
  • Germany has said that they see no technical reason for the decrease in gas supply. The European Union continues to accuse Russia of weaponizing energy, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stating, “This is an open gas war that Russia is waging against a united Europe.”
  • Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement to allow the export of grain via the Black Sea after Russia continued to block millions of tonnes from being exported. The next day, Russia struck missiles at the port, some of which hit the infrastructure of the port.
  • The US and Ukraine are optimistic that the agreement will still be implemented, with the US State Department stating, “Despite these attacks, we do understand that the parties are continuing preparations to open Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for food and fertilizer exports…we also continue to expect that the Black Sea agreement will be implemented.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Environment

‘Effects of nuclear war globally catastrophic’, new study warns.

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Impact of nuclear war on climate

A nuclear war could lead to a ‘nuclear ice age’, plummeting global temperatures, eradicating a vast proportion of sea life and largely implicating global food security, a new study indicates.

Researchers at Louisiana State University in the US conducted several computer simulations in an Earth System Model to assess the impacts of regional and global nuclear wars on oceans. The study, which examined the potential consequences of

conflicts between the US and Russia, as well as Pakistan and India, revealed that in every scenario, smoke and soot from firestorms would release into the upper atmosphere, obstructing the sun and plunging temperatures at an average of 13F (-11C) within  just one month.

Cheryl Harrison, assistant professor and lead author of the study, said the impact would be all-consuming. 

“It doesn’t matter who is bombing whom. It can be India and Pakistan or NATO and Russia. Once the smoke is released into the upper atmosphere it spreads globally and affects everyone,” she told Bloomberg.

“We can and must, however, do everything we can to avoid nuclear war. The effects are too likely to be globally catastrophic,” she added.

The simulations involved testing the impacts of the US and Russia bombing cities and industrial sites with 4, 400 nuclear weapons weighing 100 kilotons or Pakistan and India detonating 500 of the explosives. 

Alan Robock, Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University, said he hoped the study would “encourage” greater action to thwart the threat.

“Nuclear warfare results in dire consequences for everyone. World leaders have used our studies previously as an impetus to end the nuclear arms race in the 1980s, and five years ago to pass a treaty in the United Nations to ban nuclear weapons. We hope that this new study will encourage more nations to ratify the ban treaty.”

The research warned that a US and Russia conflict may lead to permanent increased Artic sea ice extent and volume. 

A UN report also warned of the rapid “global collapse” of civilisations, partially induced by global conflicts, unless urgent steps were taken to address the issue. 

The latest American study follows a warning to British troops by the army’s top general to prepare to “deter Russian aggression with the threat of force”. Shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russia Foreign Minister, Sergie Lavrov said a Third World War would involve nuclear weapons and destruction would not be limited to Eastern Europe. 

Ocean temperatures could fall, and sea ice expand by six million square miles, affecting trading as major ports, such as Tianjin in China would be occluded.

Reversing the damage would take decades, the study warned. 

A report from the thinktank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said that the global nuclear arsenal, since the cold war, is expected to increase drastically in the next few years and reversal this amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine is unlikely.

John Erath, senior policy director for the Centre for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, warned earlier that NATO was only capable of blocking an “extremely limited attack” if Russia were to launch a ballistic missile.

As record temperatures hit the UK, scientists claim that frequent and intense heatwaves are the result of human-induced climate change. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Key Ports in Ukraine are Severely Attacked from Russian Missiles

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Russian Intercontinental Ballistic Missile launched from Plesetsk
  • According to Ukrainian reports, the city of Odessa was severely attacked, even though Russia agreed to not target any ports with grain shipment.
  • These products are vital to fight against the global food crises and caught on fire after the attack, in which Russia claimed they had nothing to do with the attack.
  • Russia attacked a key port after the signature of the Istanbul Agreement and agreed with Ukraine to ease the exportation of grain.
  • As a result of Russia’s actions, Ukrainian forces have utilised new US missile supplies to target the Antonovsky Bridge in Kherson, which would harshly impact the Russian supply if the bridge was destroyed.

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All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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