Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation has come into his own during the war. In the days after Russia invaded its Western neighbor, the 31-year-old started peppering the chief executives of some of the world’s leading tech companies with social media messages to urge them to cut ties with Moscow. He asked Tim Cook to stop selling Apple products in Russia. He urged Elon Musk to free up satellites to give Ukrainians internet access. He called on Reed Hastings to cut Netflix off from Russia.
Yet these high-profile pleas are just part of Fedorov’s role as one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s closest aides. After helping the comedian-turned-politician get elected, the former digital marketing executive has transformed his ministry into ground zero for the digital war against the Kremlin.
His team has recruited thousands of Ukrainian and foreign cyber experts to both combat Russian attacks and to target possible Kremlin vulnerabilities so that Kyiv can go on the offensive. Fedorov also has been quick to retrofit existing technologies in the name of the ongoing war effort. Case in point: using a state-owned digital tool for registering cars to track Russian troop movements.
“This is a community effort where there are both individuals and companies joining us,” he told POLITICO, referencing a citizens’ army of cybersecurity experts and rebel hackers under the banner of the so-called IT Army of Ukraine.
What to watch for this year: Fedorov is using his social media prowess and willingness to call out Western companies to force further sanctions and restrictions on Russia’s use of digital services.
What’s their superpower: Harnessing the goodwill of the West in Kyiv’s digital fight with Moscow.
Influence score: 23/30