Much has been made of the struggle between the European Union, Russia and the United States in the lead-up to the agreement signed Friday that it's hoped will end deadly clashes in Kiev. Less discussed have been the wealthy and connected Ukrainians who are trying to influence events in the country.
Behind the scenes, major business leaders—sometimes called "oligarchs" in the parlance of the region—are playing a role in the struggle. Some are discreetly backing the opposition that wants closer ties to Europe and the West, while some support President Viktor Yanukovych and strong ties to Russia. Still others seem to be playing both sides.
Who are these billionaires? Adrian Karatnycky, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, and Lauren Goodrich, chief Eurasia analyst at global intelligence firm Stratfor, as well as other experts, broke it down for CNBC.
In no particular order, here are the Ukrainian power players who investors in Europe and beyond should know:
F. Stephen Larrabee, European security expert at Rand Corp., told CNBC that the oligarchs may move away from Yanukovych because they have much to lose if he can't retain power.
Edward Mermelstein, an attorney and adviser on cross-border investments in Russia, called Ukraine's oligarchs "quiet billionaires" and echoed Larabee's sentiments:
"Each of these high-net-worth individuals has a tremendous stake in who will next lead the Ukrainian government," he said. "They have much to gain or much to lose depending on outcome."
Goodrich pointed out that Ukrainian oligarchs are different from their Russian counterparts in that they are active in politics. Russian players tend to stay away from the political process, which is dominated by one man: President Vladimir Putin.
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"It's almost as if [Ukrainian] oligarchs are part of the process in which people rise to power," she said.
Several sources who spoke with CNBC said the oligarchs are hedging their bets to ensure their own financial interests and survival.
"There's no ideology," Goodrich said. "It's all about the money and the self-preservation of their own respective empires."
—By CNBC's Dina Gusovsky. Follow her on Twitter @DinaGusovsky.