Vladimir Putin dismissed Sergei Shoigu from the Russian Ministry of Defense

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed his longtime ally Sergei Shoigu from the position of Minister of Defense, the Kremlin announced.

The 68-year-old has held the post since 2012 and is slated to be named secretary of Russia’s Security Council.

Articles published by Russia’s upper house said Shoigu would be replaced by Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov.

The Kremlin said the Defense Ministry must remain “innovative.”

Russian government papers show Putin wants Shoigu to wrest power from Nikolai Patrushev on the powerful Security Council. It is not yet clear what Patrushev’s new task will be.

Mr. Shoigu has a close relationship with President Putin and often accompanies him on fishing trips in his native Siberia.

He received the defense portfolio despite his lack of military background, which was at his peak.

A civil engineer by profession, Shoigu rose in the 1990s as head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations and Disasters.

He often looked out of place as defense minister, especially after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago, BBC Europe analyst Danny Aeberhard said.

In 2023, Shoigu entered into a public dispute with Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Wagner’s mercenaries, over Russian warfare.

Prigozhin, who led a short-lived rebellion against Moscow, accused Shoigu of being a “bag of dirt” and an “old clown” in leaked audio messages.

The mercenary commander was killed in a plane crash while flying from St. Petersburg to Moscow in August 2023. The Kremlin denied his guilt.

Mr. Shoigu’s proposed replacement, Mr. Belousov, is an economist with little military experience and surprises some.

But other analysts say the move shows President Putin is trying to more closely align Russia’s economy with the military.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the proposed appointment of a civilian would demonstrate the need for a “renewal” of the defense minister’s role.

He said Russia began to resemble the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s when a large portion of GDP went to military spending.

As a result, it was necessary to ensure that military spending was better integrated into the overall Russian economy, he added.

“Whoever is more open to innovation will win on the battlefield,” he said.

BBC Russia reporter Steve Rosenberg said that Shoigu’s replacement was not surprising, as his position had deteriorated and there had been talk of losing his post for some time. Russia’s campaign in Ukraine has been plagued by military setbacks and heavy losses of men and equipment.

Last month, the deputy defense minister – Timur Ivanov – was charged with bribery and arrested in a rare move against such a senior official. Ivanov was considered an ally of Shoigu and worked with him for many years.

Economist as new defense minister reflects Kremlin’s changing priorities, says Steve Rosenberg. Russia’s economy is currently on a war footing, so it is essential that the Ministry of Defense has sufficient funds to finance the war.

Who is in Putin’s inner circle and running the war?
According to unnamed government officials cited by The Bell, an independent Russian website, Belousov is considered “a staunch defender of the country who believes Russia is surrounded by enemies.”

Like President Putin, he is close to the Russian Orthodox Church. He is said to be a martial arts enthusiast – as is President Putin – who practiced karate and the Russian martial art samba in his youth.

Before becoming deputy prime minister, he worked as Putin’s assistant for several years. Before that, he was the Minister of Economic Development.

He was reportedly the only member of the president’s financial circle to support the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Putin took his fifth oath of office on Tuesday after winning Russia’s recent election with 87 percent. to vote in the ballot and without credible opponents. He has been leading Russia since May 2000.

Among the cabinet members who want to keep their positions is Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

BBC Russia reporter Steve Rosenberg said Shoigu’s replacement was no surprise as his position had deteriorated and there had been talk for some time that he might lose his job. Russia’s campaign in Ukraine has been plagued by military setbacks and heavy losses of men and equipment.

Last month, the deputy defense minister – Timur Ivanov – was charged with bribery and arrested in a rare move against such a senior official. Ivanov was considered an ally of Shoigu and worked with him for many years.

Economist as new defense minister reflects Kremlin’s changing priorities, says Steve Rosenberg. Russia’s economy is currently on a war footing, so it is essential that the Ministry of Defense has sufficient funds to finance the war.

Who is in Putin’s inner circle and running the war?
According to unnamed government officials cited by The Bell, an independent Russian website, Belousov is considered “a staunch defender of the country who believes Russia is surrounded by enemies.”

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