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Putin dismisses Shoigu as Russian Defense Minister | International

Russian President Vladimir Putin has fired the person most responsible for his failed invasion of Ukraine. the hitherto Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigu (Chadán, USSR, 68 years old), after 12 years at the head of the armed forces. Shoigu has belonged to the president's closest circle since the start of his political career in the 1990s and has been accused of stagnating a “special military operation”, which was initially supposed to last only a few days and has now lasted 27 months. The general will be replaced at the head of the armed forces by a man of finance, former Minister of Economic Development Andrei Belousov (Moscow, USSR, 65 years old), indicating that the Kremlin is planning a long war against Ukraine. In any case, Shoigu does not leave Putin's circle and is appointed Secretary of the Security Council, where he will replace the powerful former head of the Federal Security Service (FSB, the former KGB) Nikolai Patrushev (Leningrad, USSR, 71 years old). old), the destination of which is unknown.

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained that Shoigu's departure is due to the need to adapt the army to the war being waged against Ukraine. “The winner on today's battlefield is the one who is most open to innovation, most open to implementation as quickly as possible. Therefore, at the current stage, the President has decided that the Ministry of Defense should be headed by a civilian,” the Kremlin explained to Russian media.

Putin has taken advantage of the mandatory appointment of a new government at the start of his fifth term to undertake this revolution. After being sworn in as president on May 7the previous cabinet of ministers halted their entire positions, as provided for by Russian law. Putin confirmed the continuity of some of them, such as the Prime Minister, the technocrat Mikhail Mishustin, and the replacement of others.

Shoigu rose to popularity in the 1990s as President Boris Yeltsin's Minister of Emergency Situations. Hailing from the Siberian region of Tuva, next to Mongolia, Shoigu joined Putin's team and was key to his election victory. The senior official was head of the Emergency Situations Department until 2012, when the Kremlin tasked him with modernizing an army that his predecessor as Defense Minister, Anatoly Serdiukovstripped of all its Soviet heritage.

The hitherto Minister of Defense relied on the Chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov. The popularity of both was very high until the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, and Shoigu even rivaled Putin in the polls. However, the failed offensive and Ukrainian counterattacks caused a rift within the army. The most visible face of this schism on the Russian front was the head of the Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhinwho dared to revolt with a column on the way to Moscow in June 2023. Prigozhin, who had supposedly been pardoned, died when his plane crashed two months later under circumstances that have never been clarified.

Shoigu's resignation is not accompanied by that of Gerasimov, who has been confirmed in his position by the Kremlin. “As for the military component, this appointment will not change the current coordinate system. “The Chief of the General Staff will continue his activities and no changes in this regard are expected at this time,” Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Tass.

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“Although Shoigu occupied one of the highest positions on the national stage – before Putin – he had the unique distinction of having gone very far without making any bitter enemies,” he described as one of the great virtues of analyst Mark Galeotti. book Putin's wars: from Chechnya to Ukraine.

A financial expert for a long war

Shoigu is replaced by an economist when the war consumes over a third of the government budget. Andrei Belousov succeeded the current Governor of the Central Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiúllina, as Minister of Development in 2012, and a year later he was appointed Assistant to the President for Economic Affairs.

Belousov's political career has developed in a discreet background over the past decade, as he is part of the technocratic area of ​​​​the government. However, he enjoyed great confidence in the Kremlin and in 2020 served as acting prime minister while Mishustin recovered from a coronavirus infection.

Belousov, until this week Russia's first deputy prime minister, is one of the few technocrats close to the Russian president. 'A statesman surrounded by enemies.' This is how a government source described the economist to the independent newspaper. The bell. According to the newspaper, Belousov was the only one in the Kremlin's economic circle who openly supported him the illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in 2014.

The leadership of the Ministry of Finance will remain on the shoulders of Antón Siluanov (61 years old), responsible for this portfolio since 2011. The economist, after being re-proposed to head the organization that supplies the army, stated that “one of the priorities in drawing up the budget”, but recalled that Putin himself “has reiterated on numerous occasions that it is necessary to develop a policy that takes into account the principles and rules that guarantee the stability of fiscal policy.”

Siluanov will determine how much money is available for troops and weapons, and with these accounts Belousov will work with Shoigu, whose new task at the head of the Security Council will be to monitor cooperation between the military industry and the needs of the armed forces . explained by Putin's spokesman. The former defense minister will replace one of the most powerful men in Russia, Nikolai Patrushev, Putin's successor at the head of the FSB between 1999 and 2008, as head of the organization.

The former head of Russia's spy agency will remain in power, although his future will be known “in the coming days,” as Peskov explained. Be that as it may, the former head of the FSB, the country's most powerful organization, is well placed under Putin's protection. His son, Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev (46 years old), continues his career within the regime and has been chosen by Putin as Deputy Prime Minister for this new term.

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