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WAR ECONOMY: Putin appoints civilian economist as new Russian Defense Minister in surprising move | The Gateway expert

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WAR ECONOMY: Putin appoints civilian economist as new Russian Defense Minister in surprising move |  The Gateway expert

In the context of Russia’s rapidly growing successes in the war in Ukraine, and at the start of President Vladimir Putin’s fifth term in office, the change of Defense Minister through a cabinet reshuffle was a surprise, both in Russia and abroad .

Putin chose a civilian economist as his new defense minister, in what some see as an effort to better utilize the defense budget and leverage more innovation.

Andrei Belousov, a former deputy prime minister who specializes in economics, will replace Putin’s longtime ally, Sergei Shoigu, 68, as defense minister.

Reuters reported:

“Putin wants Shoigu, in charge of defense since 2012 and a long-time friend and ally, to become the secretary of Russia’s powerful Security Council, replacing the incumbent Nikolai Patrushev, and also to be given responsibilities for the military-industrial complex,” the Kremlin said. .”

This is by far the most significant change to the military command since the start of the war, and could be linked to the arrest of Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov, a close ally of Shoigu, for corruption.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the change made sense because Russia was approaching a situation like that of the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s, when the military and law enforcement authorities accounted for 7.4% of gross domestic product (GDP). names.

That, Peskov said, meant it was crucial to ensure that such spending was aligned with and better integrated into the country’s overall economy. That is why Putin now wanted a civilian economist in the Ministry of Defense.”

Economist Belousov played a key role in overseeing Russia’s drone program.

“Putin’s move, while unexpected, preserves the balance at the top of the complex system of personal loyalties that make up the current political system.

The shake-up gives Shoigu a job that is technically considered higher than his role at the Ministry of Defense, ensuring continuity and saving Shoigu’s face. Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian General Staff and someone with a more practical role when it comes to directing the war, will remain in office.”

Putin kept the heads of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), as well as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in their posts.

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