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Putin Replaces the Longtime Defence Minister Shoigu, Shaking Up the Military Leadership

  • Posted on May 13, 2024
  • News

Russian President Vladimir Putin removed longstanding defense minister Sergei Shoigu, replacing him with economist Andrei Belousov to better integrate military and economic policies during the Ukraine war.


In a dramatic replacement of Russia's military lead, President Vladimir Putin took the long-term defense minister Sergei Shoigu from his post and appointed him as the head of the Security Council instead. 

Shoigu, 68, had been the defense minister since 2012 and was one of the most trusted advisers of Putin being usually seen with Putin on expeditions such as fishing in Siberia. Despite this, his reign has been overshadowed by the disastrous failure of Russia's invasion of Ukraine in the last two years. 

Sergei Shoigu as the defense minister will be substituted by Andrei Belousov who is a present deputy prime minister responsible for economic policy. Being a Belousov with no military experience at all, he is regarded as a person who can more smoothly balance Russia's defense spending with her overall wartime economy. 

The Kremlin announced that the change is proof that Russia needs more "innovation" at the defense ministry as it is increasing military production and spending. Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary, who works for Putin, said that this was similar to the Soviet Union in the 1980s when a big share of the GDP was used for military financing. 

Shoigu's dismissal is in the wake of the criticism that he received for a long time over his leadership of the campaign against Ukraine even from the leader of the mercenary group Wagner, who used profane words in his accusation against Shoigu before his death in August. The past month, one of Shoigu's deputy ministers was arrested on bribery charges. 

Belousov is 70 years old and he is known as a hardliner who thinks that Russia is surrounded by its foes. Its appointment exhibits that Putin is trying to move from the battlefield strategy to economic mobilization as the costly war continues. 

Also Read: Radical Islamists are behind Moscow attack: Putin

The reshuffle is one of the largest reconstructions of Putin's inner circle since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict more than 15 months ago. However, it is still unknown whether the new leadership can make a difference to the Russian forces who are currently experiencing difficulty in gaining progress on the ground.

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