Sergei Shoigu: Putin replaces Russia’s defense minister with a civilian amid Ukraine war furor and defense spending spirals.



CNN

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed his defense minister and close ally Sergei Shoigu as a civilian economist. A major reshuffle of the military leadership more than two years after Moscow’s grinding war against Ukraine raised defense spending.

Andrey Belousov, a civilian who served as a former first deputy prime minister and specializes in economics, was appointed to the top security post, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Sunday.

Shoigu has been “released” from his post by presidential decree, Peskov said, but he will remain an influential part of Putin’s administration as secretary of the Russian Security Council, while former FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev will be “transferred to another job”.

Shoigu will also be a deputy at Russia’s military-industrial complex, Peskov said, as Putin begins. Fifth term as president.

The shake-up comes as Russia begins its most aggressive effort yet Cross-border ground attack Since Ukraine recaptured the northern Kharkiv region in the late summer of 2022. It comes after months of Russian airstrikes on the city of Kharkiv and amid a grinding advance in Donetsk in the east.

Shoigu headed the country’s defense ministry for 12 years and presided over the invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Russian troops initially took Kiev by surprise, but were soon repulsed, exposing the weaknesses of Moscow’s corrupt army and its willingness to send in poorly trained waves. Both Ukrainian and Russian troops were armed with so-called “meat grinders.”

He has his critics Often described Shoigu is distant and out of touch with the realities of the conflict. His strongest critic was the late Wagnerian leader Evgeny Prigogine He died weeks later in a plane crash, accusing the defense ministry of starving militants and bureaucratic incompetence of his resources before launching a failed insurgency last year.

See also  Rich Paul believes LeBron James will play 2-3 more NBA seasons

Rising military spending and the need for ‘innovation’

In need of “innovation,” Peskov was picked by Putin, who highlighted the ministry’s soaring budget, saying it was approaching levels last seen during the Cold War.

“On the battlefield today, the winner is the most open to innovation,” Peskov said. “Therefore, it is natural that the president decided that, at the current stage, the Russian Ministry of Defense should be headed by a civilian.”

In a reference to the war in Ukraine, Peskov said, “Due to well-known geopolitical circumstances, we are gradually approaching the situation of the mid-80s, when the share of defense sector expenditures in the economy was 7.4%. This is not critical, but it is very important.”

The budget is currently 6.7% of GDP, he said.

Peskov highlighted Peluso’s previous leadership experience and economic background.

“This is not just a citizen, but he very successfully headed the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, he was an assistant to the president on economic issues for a long time, and was also the first deputy head of the previous government. Cabinet of Ministers,” Peskov said.

Peskov added that the new appointment does not represent a change in Russia’s current military structure.

“As far as the military component is concerned, this appointment does not alter the existing coordination structures in any way. The military component has always been the prerogative of the Chief of General Staff. [Valery Gerasimov], and he will continue his activities. No change in this regard is expected at present,” he said.

In his new role, Shoigu will oversee Russia’s military industrial complex, Peskov said.

“He is deeply immersed in this work, he is well aware of the speed of production of military-industrial products in certain enterprises, and often visits these enterprises,” he said.

The news follows the arrest last month of one of Shoigu’s closest associates, the deputy defense minister Timur IvanovPutin has been accused of taking bribes in the country’s highest-profile corruption scandal since launching his invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

Russian state media TASS reported that Ivanov accepted a bribe of 1 million rubles (at least $10,800).

Putin’s reshuffle is an “important” and “interesting step,” former U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in an interview with CNN on Sunday.

“The big argument coming out of Moscow right now is that Russia is moving towards a war economy,” he said. “They’re on a war footing.”

“One of the disappointing things about Shoigu’s tenure is that we thought the Russian military, at least when I was in the Pentagon, we thought they were professional, they were professional in their equipment, their doctrines, how they train and fight, and we never really saw that on the battlefield.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *