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ISW explains why Putin removed Shoigu from the post of Russian Defense Minister and what is behind the new appointment

Maryna LisnychukNews
Shoigu, Putin and Belousov

Russian President Vladimir Putin has replaced Sergei Shoigu with Andrei Belousov as defense minister, moving the general to the post of Security Council secretary instead of Nikolai Patrushev. The personnel reshuffle after the "presidential election" suggests that he is taking significant steps to mobilize the country's economy and military-industrial base to support a protracted war against Ukraine.

It is also possible that the Russian dictator is preparing Russia for a future confrontation with NATO, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) suggested. The analysts pointed to the Kremlin leader's long-standing "tactic" of quietly removing top officials by giving them secondary roles rather than simply firing them.

For example, the Federation Council published a list of ministers on May 12, according to which Putin "proposed" (his proposals are orders) the political figure and scientist Belousov to be the new head of the Defense Ministry.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state media that Shoigu, who has served as Russia's defense minister since 2012, will now become secretary of the Security Council and will be Putin's deputy in the Military Industrial Commission. He also said that the Kremlin leader had "dismissed" Patrushev from this position "due to his transfer to another job." Peskov did not specify information about the latter, but assured that the Kremlin would announce his new role in the "near future." In addition, Putin's spokesman said that Army General Valery Gerasimov (who is the commander-in-chief of the Russian occupation forces in Ukraine) will remain the chief of the general staff and that no changes to this position are currently planned.

"Shoigu's replacement of Patrushev as Security Council Secretary is in line with Putin's overall scheme of quietly removing senior security officials by giving them secondary roles in Russian security, rather than simply firing them," ISW emphasized.

They noted that this agency in Russia is an advisory body that also plays a role in the implementation of security policy and the development of Russian strategic culture. Therefore, Shoigu's appointment makes his actual demotion from the prestigious post of defense minister less humiliating.

"Putin has removed Shoigu from the direct chain of command of the Defense Ministry but has given him further influence in the security sphere. Shoigu remains an important and loyal subordinate, and sometimes a scapegoat, and it is likely to be beneficial for Putin to retain his leadership and experience in some official capacity," the analysts concluded.

They pointed to the telling fact that Shoigu's ouster followed two high-profile incidents: the dismissal of his ally, Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov, on corruption charges, and Putin's meeting with the general's political opponent, Tula Region Governor Alexei Dyumin, to discuss updates to the Strategic Defense Concept. These moments, ISW suggests, were the main indicators of the Kremlin's policy in preparation for Shoigu's removal from his long-standing post.

As reported by OBOZ.UA, the last time Shoigu showed up as Russian Defense Minister was at a May 9 coven in Moscow. Then the general of the occupying Russian army rode through Red Square and "saluted" the participants of Putin's war against Ukraine, who were herded to the "victory" parade.

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