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Russia’s Power Reshuffle: Putin Replaces Defense Minister in Midst of Ukraine War

Daniel Kim Views  

Reuters/Yonhap News

As the war in Ukraine, ignited by Russia’s invasion, has continued for three years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been broadening his scope since his recent re-election.

Some suggest that Russia has launched a major counter-offensive after successfully blocking Ukraine’s last counter-attack.

According to Yonhap News, TASS reported that Putin decided to replace his Defense Minister just five days into his fifth term on the 12th (local time).

The plan is to replace current Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu with First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov.

With this decision, Putin has made the most significant change to the military command structure since the start of the Ukraine war in February 2022.

Shoigu is a close confidant of Putin who has even vacationed with him in Siberia and has led the Defense Ministry for about 12 years since 2012.

On the other hand, Deputy Prime Minister Belousov is a former Minister of Economy who has served as Putin’s economic advisor.

Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman, explained the nomination of an economic expert as Defense Minister, saying, “In today’s battlefield, the more open to innovation, the more likely to win.”

He cited the example of the old Soviet Union in the mid-1980s when military and judicial expenditures accounted for 7.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He added that the current situation in Russia is similar to that time, and a civilian who can better align this sector’s expenditures with the overall national economy has been nominated as Defense Minister.

Shoigu, the outgoing minister, is expected to be appointed as the Secretary of the Russian National Security Council.

The National Security Council supports decision-making in Russia’s defense and security sectors. Its members include Putin as chairman, former President Dmitry Medvedev as deputy chairman, and heads of related departments.

The Secretary is formally superior to the Defense Minister, so Shoigu is considered to have saved face with this appointment.

Concerning this decision, Reuters analyzed that Putin is showing a willingness to utilize the Russian economy more to pour additional strength into the Ukraine war.

Despite Western sanctions, the Russian economy has not collapsed, and the Russian military is expanding its occupied territories on the battlefield.

The Russian military launched a ground attack on Kharkiv, the second-largest city in northeastern Ukraine, immediately after Putin’s fifth inauguration (May 7) and Victory Day (May 9), marking the end of World War II.

The Russian military announced capturing five villages the day before and four villages today, continuing its concentrated offensive for the third day.

Oleh Syniehubov, the governor of Kharkiv, said in a telegram today, “All areas on the northern border are under enemy shelling almost 24 hours a day,” and “The situation is strenuous.”

Nazar Voloshyn, the spokesman for the Ukrainian Joint Forces Group Khortytsa, analyzed on Ukrainian television that the Russian military’s attack was aimed at the villages of Vovchansk and Lyptsi.

Lyptsi is about 12.4 miles from the outskirts of Kharkiv.

In response, Ukraine is conducting airstrikes on areas near the Russian border.

Despite a lack of military equipment and personnel, Ukraine has intensified drone attacks against Russia, particularly targeting energy facilities.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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