Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is dismissed by Vladimir Putin

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is dismissed by Vladimir Putin

He was replaced by Andrei Belousov, an economist by training. This cabinet reshuffle comes at a time when the Russian army is advancing in the Ukrainian Kharkiv region and increasing its pressure in Donbass.

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Former Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, in Moscow, February 23, 2024. (ALEXANDER KAZAKOV / AFP)

He has held this role for more than ten years. Vladimir Putin fired Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who has been in office since 2012, on Sunday, May 12, in a surprise cabinet reshuffle, just days after he was inaugurated for a fifth term and after more than two years of conflict in Ukraine.

Sergei Shoigu was replaced by Andrei Belousov, an economist by training, who became Secretary of the Security Council, a position until then held by Nikolai Patrushev, who was removed from his duties by a decree published by the Kremlin.

This amendment comes at a time when the Russian army is advancing in the Ukrainian Kharkiv region, a few days after launching a ground attack there, and intensifying its pressure in the Donbas region around Chasiv Yar.

Andrei Belousov has no military background

He added: “Shoigu will continue to work in this field, which he knows well, and which he knows well from the inside, with his colleagues and partners at his former workplace.” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov quickly clarified, citing Russian agencies.

Sergei Shoigu (68 years old) has held the position of Minister of Defense in Russia since 2012, and embodies the stability of the various governments during the era of Vladimir Putin, just like the head of diplomacy, Sergei Lavrov, who maintains his position as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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Despite a series of humiliating setbacks for Russian forces in Ukraine in 2022, after the initial attack on February 24 of that year, Vladimir Putin maintained his confidence in Sergei Shoigu, despite criticism from part of the military wing of the army. His replacement, Andrei Belousov, is trained as an economist and has no military background.

The need for “innovation”

Dmitry Peskov justified Vladimir Putin's decision by the need to come directly from the front, after more than two years of fighting in Ukraine and without a clear outcome of the conflict. “Today, on the battlefield, whoever wins is the one who is most open to innovation.” He said.

According to Vladimir Putin. “The Ministry of Defense must be absolutely open to innovation, introduce all advanced ideas, and create conditions for economic competitiveness,” The Russian presidential spokesman argued as well.

In recent months, Vladimir Putin has encouraged the country's defense industries to innovate and produce in larger quantities to continue the offensive in Ukraine, which is costly in terms of equipment and men.

Because if Ukraine depends on equipment donated by the Europeans and the United States, then Russia can rely militarily only on its Iranian and North Korean partners in the first place, without forgetting China, whose demand largely allows it to keep the Russian economy afloat.

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