Putin defence minister shake-up an indication of plans for ‘long confrontation’ with West | EUROtoday

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President Vladimir Putin’s nomination of high financial official Andrei Belousov as defence minister is an indication of the significance the Russian chief locations on the struggle financial system in gaining the higher hand in what he expects shall be an extended battle towards Ukraine, analysts say.

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It is unclear if outgoing defence minister Sergei Shoigu’s transfer to move the nationwide safety council is a demotion, whereas the way forward for its earlier chief Nikolai Patrushev, a shadowy however highly effective determine and an ardent hawk, can also be murky.

The modifications, introduced simply days after Putin was inaugurated for an unprecedented fifth time period following March elections denounced as rigged by opponents, come as Russia is searching for to rattle Kyiv with advances into northeastern Ukraine.

Why Belousov?

Andrei Belousov has since 2020 occupied the submit of deputy prime minister accountable for the financial system. Like his rapid predecessors as defence minister he has no background within the navy but additionally no previous within the Russian safety companies.

His precedence at a time when Russia is planning to ramp up the defence funds to account for some 30 % of complete authorities spending shall be to advantageous tune procurement and enhance the home defence business to win success on the battlefield.

Putin “needs to shift even further to a war economy and efficient military spending – and Andrei Belousov is one of his most trusted economic officials,” Ben Noble, Associate Professor of Russian politics at University College London, advised AFP.

In an uncommon late-night briefing to elucidate a call that originally shocked many observers, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov mentioned Putin had chosen Belousov to make sure the defence ministry was open to “innovation”.

“Putin’s goal is to enhance arms production effectiveness and optimally meet military needs,” wrote Tatyana Stanovaya, founding father of the R.Politik consultancy. “In this context, Belousov is a logical choice.”

What now for the struggle?

Analysts mentioned that the appointment signifies that the Kremlin is making ready Russia for a years-long struggle towards Ukraine the place the stability in weapons provides and manufacturing could decide who emerges triumphant.

“The main takeaway is that Vladimir Putin is hunkering down for a long confrontation with the West,” mentioned Noble.

Russian-language information web site The Bell quoted a supply as saying that Belousov is an keen believer within the doctrine that Russia is encircled by a “ring of enemies” and the one determine amongst Putin’s high financial staff to help the 2014 annexation of Crimea which was adopted by extreme sanctions.

“The main conclusion that can be drawn from a competent civilian economist taking the helm of the defence ministry is that the Kremlin is consistently preparing for a protracted war with Ukraine,” it mentioned.

The fall of Shoigu?

Shoigu, a distinguished determine within the Russian authorities even within the Nineteen Nineties earlier than Putin rose to energy, was all the time seen as a comrade of the president with the pair sharing saunas and bare-chested expeditions within the wilderness of the outgoing defence minister’s native Siberia.

Those days are lengthy gone, with Shoigu’s repute struggling after the blistering diatribes towards him by mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin – who known as the minister a “dirtbag” earlier than his demise in an air crash in August 2023 – and the arrest of deputy defence minister Timur Ivanov on suspicion of taking bribes.

But Shoigu has not been faraway from the elite, with Putin nominating him as head of the nationwide safety council.

The transfer “should not be seen as a demotion, but it remains to be seen what practical political and policy roles he will play,” mentioned Noble.

There are doubts over the long run significance of the council, whose deputy chief is former president Dmitry Medvedev now greatest identified for typically apocalyptic broadsides on social media reasonably than political affect.

“This appointment also indicates that the actual significance of the security council in the hierarchy may not be as great as observers typically assume,” Stanovaya mentioned.

What subsequent for Patrushev?

A determine who hardly ever speaks in public, Patrushev has all the time been thought to be a big participant and one of many largest proponents throughout the Russian elite of the “ring of enemies” doctrine.

In a hanging improvement, his son Dmitry, previously agriculture minister, has been promoted deputy prime minister accountable for pure assets and agriculture in the identical reshuffle.

Peskov appeared desirous to create a deliberate ambiguity round the way forward for Patrushev, saying he had been relieved of his present duties “in connection with taking on a new job” which might be revealed within the “next days.”

Who is working the struggle?

With Belousov an economist with no navy expertise, the choice additional distances the defence ministry from battlefield determination making and reinforces the ability of the navy common workers.

The way forward for Russia’s chief of workers General Valery Gerasimov has been unsure for months after he disappeared from public view however he stays in his submit after the reshuffle.

“The military has always been the prerogative of the chief of the general staff, he will continue his activities, and no changes are for now envisaged in this regard,” Peskov advised reporters.