Putin Dismisses Longtime Friend as Russian’s Defence Minister, Spark Reactions

Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed Sergei Shoigu, his long-standing Defense Minister and close ally, on Sunday.

In a surprise move, Putin appointed Shoigu as the Secretary of Russia’s National Security Council, signaling a major reshuffle among the Kremlin’s top brass as the conflict in Ukraine continues to intensify.

Shoigu, aged 68 and one of Putin’s most reliable lieutenants, has been at the helm of Russia’s military operations in Ukraine since the full-scale invasion began in February 2022. His reassignment to the National Security Council replaces Nikolai Patrushev, the former FSB chief known for his staunch anti-Western stance. Patrushev, who has played a crucial role in shaping the Kremlin’s Ukraine strategy, is set to take on a yet undisclosed new role in the coming days.

Taking over the defense ministry will be Andrey Belousov, a relatively unknown figure in military circles. Previously, Belousov, 65, served as acting premier during Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s bout with Covid-19 in 2020. Despite his lack of direct military experience, Belousov is reportedly close to Putin and is expected to focus on rooting out corruption within the stagnant ministry.

This reshuffle, described as Putin’s most substantial since the onset of the Ukraine war, comes amid a renewed Russian offensive in Ukraine’s northeast, which has driven thousands of civilians from their homes due to heavy shelling.

Further changes in the Russian government include the appointment of Dmitry Patrushev, son of Nikolai Patrushev, as deputy premier alongside his current role as agriculture minister. Meanwhile, Timur Ivanov, Shoigu’s deputy, was recently arrested on corruption charges, highlighting the ongoing issues within the ministry.

Putin has also proposed Boris Kovalchuk for the role of chairman of the Accounts Chamber. Kovalchuk’s father, Yury, is a well-known oligarch considered by many to be Putin’s “wallet.”

Despite these extensive changes, some key figures remain in place. Sergey Naryshkin will continue as director of the SVR Foreign Intelligence Service, and Alexander Bortnikov will remain the head of the FSB. These decisions suggest continuity in some areas of Putin’s security strategy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *