Putin Removes Defense Minister

Andrei Belousov, former vice prime minister, is nominated for the job
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2024 4:05 PM CDT
Putin Changes Defense Ministers
Andrei Belousov, center, nominee to be Russia's defense minister, waits to attend President Vladimir Putin's inauguration Tuesday at the Kremlin.   (Vyacheslav Prokofyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Days into his fifth term, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday ousted his longtime defense minister. Sergei Shoigu has been nominated to instead lead a council that advises Putin on defense and security, the Washington Post reports. The announcement on an official government Telegram channel says Putin has nominated Andrei Belousov, a former vice prime minister, to succeed Shoigu. The entire Cabinet resigned Tuesday, after Putin's inauguration, in compliance with Russian law, per NBC News. Shoigu has held the defense job since 2012.

The Security Council opening came with the dismissal of intelligence chief Nikolai Patrushev, long considered one of Putin's closest advisers, per Politico Europe. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Patrushev will be transferred to another position, per CNN. Russian forces are pressing a fresh offensive in Ukraine's northeast that is forcing thousands of people to evacuate the Kharkiv region. Analysts say the push is designed to exploit Ukraine's ammunition shortages before promised Western supplies reach the front line, per the AP.

"Whoever is more open to innovation is the one who is victorious on the battlefield," Peskov said in discussing the defense change. A former British military intelligence colonel and NATO planner assessed the up side for the president in handling a persistent problem. "This move allows Putin to keep Shoigu on side, while bringing in someone who may be able to deal with the impact of corruption across the Russian Ministry of Defense," said Philip Ingram. (More Russian military stories.)

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