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Putin Removes Shoigu as Russia’s Defense Minister in Possible Strategic Shift Towards Economic Mobilization

Vladimir Putin signed a decree on the appointment of Sergei Shoigu as the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation and proposed to appoint First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov as the new Minister of Defense.

Dmitry Peskov, the Press Secretary of the self-proclaimed President of the Russian Federation explained the appointment of Belousov by the fact that the ministry should be open to innovation, which is why the candidacy of a “civilian person” was chosen.

Belousov’s candidacy will require approval from Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council.

According to ISW analysts, these high-level changes following the pseudo-presidential elections in Russia indicate that Putin is taking significant steps towards mobilizing the Russian economy and defense-industrial base to support the protracted war in Ukraine and possibly prepare for future confrontation with NATO.

ISW stated that almost a decade-long tenure of Belousov as Minister of Economy in the Russian federal government and his recent involvement in managing various domestic innovative projects in the field of defense-industrial complex and drones have well prepared him for leading the Ministry of Defense of Russia, which currently is in a difficult situation.

“Putin likely intends Belousov to use his experience in a civilian government position to bridge federal economic policies with the Russian Ministry of Defence agenda, thereby more fully mobilizing the Russian defense industrial base at a larger and longer-term scale and integrating it with domestic economic policy. This effort sets conditions for a fuller economic mobilization, suggesting that the Kremlin continues to prepare for a protracted war in Ukraine,” ISW writes.

This change followed the start of Putin’s fifth term in office. According to Russia’s law, the entire Russian Cabinet resigned on Tuesday after Putin’s inauguration on May 7.

Serhey Shoigu has been the Minister of Defense of Russia since November 6, 2012. Notably, the new Minister is an economist and did not serve in the army.

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