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13 May. 2024

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Putin changes defence minister for the first time in 12 years: how it could affect the war

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Putin changes defence minister for the first time in 12 years: how it could affect the war

russia has unexpectedly fired Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and appointed a civilian official far from the military to replace him. Find out who they are talking about and what Ukraine should expect now

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For the first time in 12 years, russian dictator vladimir putin has replaced his defence minister, dismissing war criminal Sergei Shoigu and appointing former Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, who has never been involved in military affairs but has recently been paying a lot of attention to the russian military-industrial complex. We tell you who he is, why putin did it and what to expect now.


The putin administration says that the reshuffle in the ministry is supposedly aimed at unlocking innovation and cutting-edge ideas. At the same time, they claim that they are not going to change the military command.


Who is Andriy Bilousov?


Bilousov's appointment clearly came as a surprise, as he has no connection to the armed forces. However, he has been in the circle of dictator putin for quite some time - since 2007.


Belousov is an economist who is directly involved in the current russian macroeconomic model.


According to the politician's biography, he has been in the government system since the late 1990s, when he became an adviser to Prime Minister Primakov. In 2006, he became Deputy Minister of Economic Development and has not left the upper echelons of the russian government since then. In 2012-2013, he briefly headed the russian ministry of economic Development, after which he became putin's advisor for seven years.


Reasons for Shoigu's dismissal


According to the military portal Defence Express, the reasons are most likely to be that Belousov has to improve the work of the russian military-industrial complex. This is indicated by the fact that in April 2023, Belousov headed a newly created government commission for the development of aviation drones.


Since that year, he has been actively issuing instructions on the timing and volume of production in this area, which may indicate a direct instruction from putin.


Analysts believe that Bilousov's task will be much broader than just trying to squeeze everything possible out of the russian military-industrial complex.


At the same time, it is difficult to predict Belousov's steps, but he should not be underestimated either, as he has managed to stay in putin's circles for a long time, remaining a relatively little-known but influential figure.




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is putin preparing for a confrontation with naTo?


Experts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) believe that putin is replacing senior officials, particularly in the russian ministry of defence, in preparation for a protracted war in Ukraine and possibly in preparation for a future confrontation with NATO.


According to analysts, these high-level reshuffles after russia's pseudo-presidential election strongly suggest that putin is taking significant steps to mobilise the russian economy and defence industry.


Belousov's nearly decade-long tenure as Minister of Economy in the russian federal government and his recent involvement in managing various domestic innovative projects in the field of defence and drone technology have prepared him well to lead the struggling russian Ministry of Defence, ISW says.


"Belousov has a strong reputation as an effective technocrat, and insider sources claim that he also has a positive relationship with putin," the report says.


It is worth noting that the personnel reshuffle in russia is taking place at a time when the situation at the front is escalating, with the occupiers launching an offensive in the Kharkiv region. By the way, we wrote about the situation in the region here.



Photo: Sputnik/Alexander Vilf/Pool via REUTERS


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