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Putin’s Surprise Move: Shoigu Replaced as Defense Minister in Major Shake-up

In a significant upheaval, President Vladimir Putin has put forward former First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov as the replacement for the long-serving Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, as announced by the upper-house Federation Council on Sunday night.

The removal of Shoigu, a close ally of Putin for many years, comes shortly after Putin’s inauguration for a fifth term, solidifying his extensive rule spanning over two decades, amidst ongoing tensions with neighboring Ukraine.

Belousov, aged 65, boasts a diverse portfolio in government, having held various roles over the past decade, including economic development minister, presidential economic assistant, acting prime minister, and first deputy prime minister.

Responding to concerns about Belousov’s lack of military background, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized the potential for a civilian leader at the helm of the Defense Ministry to introduce innovative approaches and integrate the security bloc’s economy with the broader national economy.

Moreover, Putin’s dismissal of Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev, a prominent figure within Putin’s inner circle, signals a significant shift. Shoigu will assume Patrushev’s role, overseeing strategic and national security matters, while the Kremlin is expected to disclose Patrushev’s new position soon.

Shoigu’s reassignment follows a string of challenges during the Ukraine conflict, including internal dissent within the Wagner mercenary group and the recent arrest of Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov on corruption charges, highlighting a broader restructuring within the Defense Ministry.

The shakeup underscores Putin’s efforts to ensure accountability and effectiveness in government functions, particularly amidst the ongoing conflict and economic challenges. However, some analysts speculate on the broader implications, with questions arising about the future direction of defense strategy and economic policies under Belousov’s leadership.

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