The Kremlin planned to capture Kyiv in three (up to a maximum of four) days in Feb. 2022. Russian troops sought to attack the capital from the north on two sides.

 Part of the Russian army was supposed to move east of Kyiv through Chernihiv. The other part was to travel down to the west, moving south from Belarus through the natural gap between the Chornobyl "exclusion zone" and the marshy terrain surrounding the former nuclear power plant.

 Meanwhile, the Russian landing force, which was supposed to land in Hostomel, should have already stormed Kyiv and occupied the government quarter.

 According to Ukrainska Pravda (UP) citing its anonymous intelligence sources, if the plan to seize Kyiv and overthrow President Volodymyr Zelensky from his position had been realized, two candidates – Viktor Medvedchuk or ex-President Viktor Yanukovych – were lined up to take his place.


Plan A: Medvedchuk

 Judging by dozens of conversations of the UP with Ukrainian security forces and politicians from different camps, the Kremlin had at least two options for ruling Ukraine after the seizure.

 The first option was the person closest to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine – Viktor Medvedchuk.

 During the presidency of Petro Poroshenko, Medvedchuk was chief negotiator with the Kremlin and was engaged in the exchange of prisoners.

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 When Zelensky came to power in recent years, Medvedchuk's problems in Ukraine started to get worse: his TV channels were turned off the air, and the National Security and Defense Council imposed personal sanctions against him and his wife.

 As of the beginning of 2022, Medvedchuk was in Kyiv under round-the-clock house arrest on suspicion of treason.

 The last chance for Putin's closest ally in Ukraine to be at the top of Ukrainian politics was the "helping hand" of Moscow. And Medvedchuk, as interlocutors in his party were convinced, was one of the few in Ukraine who knew for sure about the upcoming Russian invasion.


 On Feb. 23, the day before the invasion began, Medvedchuk began to act out of character. On this day, he always traditionally celebrated the day of the Soviet Army, but postponed the celebration to come on the third day after the start of Russia's invasion.

 However, Medvedchuk was evidently never destined to come to power in Ukraine. In the first days of the invasion, he escaped from house arrest. Law enforcement searched for him and it later turned out he was hiding in a luxury house in Kyiv. 

Plan B: Yanukovych

 After the " disappearance " of Medvedchuk, the Russians really considered the option of Yanukovych's return to Ukraine.

 Let's go back in time to 2021. On Dec. 30 that year, the news appeared in the Ukrainian media: "Yanukovych wants to return the status of the president."

 After the announcement out of the blue, the fugitive decided to file a lawsuit in the infamous regional administrative court of the city of Kyiv with the aim to recognize that the Verkhovna Rada lacked the authority to adopt an act of self-removal of the president in 2014.


 Yanukovych then supplemented his claims with another lawsuit, which claimed that the Ukrainian parliament did not have the right to deprive the president of the title without an impeachment procedure. The parliament deprived him of the right to be called the president of Ukraine by a simple decree.

 "Yanukovych's lawyers turned out to be surprisingly smart. They went to the court to appeal not the decision of the Council, but the issue of procedure," explains one of the key lawyers of Zelensky's team.

 "That was the legal loophole. And if the court had recognized procedural violations, the consequence would have been the invalidation of the parliament's decision."

 Meanwhile, the next stage of the Ukrainian-Russian peace talks was to take place in Minsk in early March 2022.  On March 2, a delegation from Kyiv came to Belarus. Almost simultaneously with the Ukrainian delegation, a plane carrying Yanukovych landed in Minsk.

 At that moment, Yanukovych suddenly became the "Plan B."

In order to prevent the judges of the regional administrative court of the city of Kyiv from making any decisions, on March 2, the State Judicial Administration disconnected the court from access to the register of court decisions.

 The situation was so dangerous that even the Security Service of Ukraine was involved in blocking the court.


 However, the situation at the front unfolded rapidly and unexpectedly for Moscow, where it became quite obvious that things would not work out as the Kremlin had planned.

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