Spread the love

Putin fires Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu

Photo: Natalia Kolesnikova Agence France-Presse Russian President Vladimir Putin (left), accompanied by Sergei Shoigu (right), then Russian Defense Minister, leaves Red Square in Moscow after a Victory Day military parade last Thursday

France Media Agency in Moscow

Published yesterday at 9:06 p.m.

  • Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed his emblematic Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Sunday evening, in office since 2012, in a surprise reshuffle, a few days after his inauguration for a fifth term and after more than two years of conflict in Ukraine.

Sergueï Shoigu is replaced by Andreï Belousov, an economist by training, and becomes secretary of the Security Council, a position held until then by Nikolaï Patrushev, who is removed from office, according to a decree published by the Kremlin.

This reshuffle comes as the Russian army advances in the Ukrainian region of Kharkiv, a few days after having launched a land assault, and is increasing its pressure in the Donbass, around Tchassiv Yar.

“Shoigu will continue to work in this area, which he knows well, which he knows very well from the inside, with his colleagues and his partners in his former workplace,” the presidential spokesperson quickly clarified. Russian, Dmitri Peskov, quoted by Russian agencies.

British Defense Minister Grant Shapps accused him of being responsible for “more than 355,000 victims”, dead and wounded, “among its own soldiers” in the war in Ukraine.

“Moscow needs a Minister of Defense capable […] ] to end the invasion, but all she'll get is another Putin puppet,” he said on X (formerly Twitter).

Sergueï Shoigu, 68, has been Minister of Defense in Russia since 2012 and personified the stability of the various governments under Vladimir Putin, just like the head of diplomacy, Sergeï Lavrov, who retains his post as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Despite a series of humiliating setbacks for Russian troops in Ukraine in 2022, following the initial offensive on February 24 of that year, Vladimir Putin maintained his confidence in Sergei Shoigu, despite criticism from part of the war wing of the army.

This was particularly the case following the aborted revolt in June 2023 by fighters from the paramilitary group of Wagner, led by Yevgeni Prigozhin, who had caused power to waver.

Andreï Belooussov, replacing Mr. Shoigu, was trained as an economist and had no military background .

At 65, he was first vice president in the last government since 2020 and one of Vladimir Putin's main economic advisors in recent years, even briefly serving as Minister of Economic Development between May 2012 and June 2013.

Need for “innovation”

Dmitri Peskov justified Vladimir Putin’s decision by a need coming directly from the front, after more than two years of fighting in Ukraine and without a clear outcome to the conflict.

“Today, on the battlefield, the one who wins, it is the one who is the most open to innovation”, he affirmed.

According to Vladimir Putin, “the Ministry of Defense must be absolutely open to innovation, to the introduction of all advanced ideas, to the creation of conditions for economic competitiveness,” Mr. Peskov further argued.

In recent months, the Russian president has encouraged the country's defense industry to innovate and produce in greater quantities to continue the offensive in Ukraine, which is costly in terms of equipment and men.

Because if Ukraine relies on equipment donated by the Europeans and the United States, Russia can only count militarily on its Iranian and North Korean partners mainly.

Chinese demand largely helps keep the Russian economy afloat.

The Kremlin spokesperson also indicated that Valéri Guerassimov, chief of staff, would keep his mission as field commander, without Mr. Beloussov encroaching on his functions.

The future role of Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Security Council since 2008 and before that head of the FSB during Vladimir Putin's first two terms in the Kremlin, will be communicated to him “in the coming days”, specified Dmitri Peskov.

The head of foreign intelligence (SVR), Sergei Naryshkin, will retain his prerogatives, as will the head of the powerful Russian security services (FSB), Alexander Bortnikov.

Representatives of the State Duma and the Federation Council, the two chambers of the Russian Parliament, must ratify these unexpected changes on Monday and Tuesday, a formality as they are dominated by United Russia, Vladimir Putin's party, in absence of any tolerated opposition.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116