Putin fires Defense Minister Shoigu | Munich evening newspaper

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Written By Maya Cantina

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Moscow

There has already been speculation about this, but it remains a spectacular personnel change: more than two years after the start of the war of aggression against Ukraine, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin fired his Defense Minister and close confidant Sergei Shoigu. Shoigu’s successor will be previous Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Beloussov, the Upper House of the Russian Parliament announced on Sunday evening. Putin’s suggestions for the composition of the new Russian government were received there.

Shoigu will now become secretary of the National Security Council; Nikolai Patrushev has held this position before. Patrushev’s new assignment will be announced soon, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Lavrov remains Russia’s foreign minister

A new government will be formed because the old one was constitutionally resigned after the presidential elections in mid-March. The vote, which was overshadowed by allegations of fraud and manipulation, ultimately declared the 71-year-old Kremlin boss the clear winner; A few days ago he was officially sworn in for his fifth term in office. There are a few personnel changes in the new government, but none are as significant as Shoigu’s replacement. Putin, for example, continues to cling to Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. The 74-year-old Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will also remain in office after twenty years.

No official reason for Shoigu’s dismissal was given. However, there was some speculation about a possible resignation of 68-year-old Shoigus, who had been defense minister since 2012. A few weeks ago, one of Shoigu’s deputies, Timur Ivanov, was arrested on corruption charges. Observers interpreted this as a sign of power struggles within the Russian military and security apparatus. Some of them saw Shoigu’s chair shaking.

Putin and Shoigu have a close friendship

Putin and Shoigu have a close friendship; the two often spent their free time and holidays together ostentatiously. Putin, despite all defeats and misfortunes, held on to the minister, especially at the beginning of the war in early 2022. After the first major Ukrainian successes on the battlefield, there was repeated speculation about a replacement, but Putin is considered loyal to his friends. The fact that he now makes Shoigu head of the Security Council is seen as a face-saving solution for his old companion.

Putin had previously withheld this step for a long time – even after the situation escalated a year ago in June with an uprising by the head of Wagner’s private army, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Prigozhin had accused Shoigu of large-scale corruption, weak leadership and failure in the war. Prigozhin lost the power struggle with the Russian military leadership and, like the entire Wagner leadership, was killed in an unexplained plane crash in August. But the scandals surrounding abuse of office, embezzlement of funds and theft under the Russian military leadership were not forgotten.

Shoigu: Tactical successes in the war

Shoigu was initially seen as the presumed winner of the power games – also because he had repeatedly demonstrated tactical successes in the war. The Russian army led by Shoigu has made territorial gains in the Kharkiv region in recent months. Some observers said the dark clouds over the minister had cleared.

Chief of the General Staff Valeri Gerasimov was always considered the most important man on Shoigu’s side. It was initially unclear on Sunday evening whether he would retain his position or whether he would have to leave.

Russian independent experts saw the current decision of the head of the Kremlin not so much as a dissatisfaction with the military leadership, but as a step towards greater control over expenditure in this war. The announced new Defense Minister Beloussov is considered one of the most prominent economists in the Russian leadership.

Andrei Beloussov will be Shoigu’s successor

For some experts, the appointment of Beloussov as Shoigu’s successor also suggests that Putin wants to win the war mainly through production in defense factories. “In his way of thinking, this makes sense because the economic bloc turned out to be more effective in the war than the security and military apparatus,” said expert Alexander Baunow. Putin’s strategy is therefore not to put pressure on Ukraine through the mobilization of new soldiers, but through the capabilities of the armament complex.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also made it clear that defense spending in Russia is now so high that someone like Beloussov is the man to control the area. The Defense Ministry now occupies a key position in Russia’s security spending, Peskov said. “This requires particularly important decisions.” Today, the winner on the battlefield is the one who is open to innovations and their rapid introduction. That is why Putin has elected to office a citizen who has had a significant impact on economic development in recent years. Beloussov was, among other things, an economic advisor to Putin and most recently first deputy head of government.


An announcement: This report is part of an automated service of the German Press Agency (dpa), which operates according to strict journalistic rules. It is not edited or controlled by the AZ online editors. Feel free to send questions and comments feedback@az-muenchen.de



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