Putin shuffles goons running Russian’s war in Ukraine as defense minister Shoigu replaced with economist

Russian President Vladimir Putin is replacing his embattled defense minister with a civilian economist in an effort to shake up his brutal war after the US approved billions in military aid for Ukraine.

Sergei Shoigu, 68, who has faced criticism over his handling of the invasion, has left the Ministry of Defense and is now taking a role as Russia’s national security council, which oversees both foreign and domestic security matters, the Kremlin said Sunday. 

Putin has proposed that first deputy prime minister Andrei Belousov, 65, who previously served as an assistant to the Ministry of Economic Development, take helm of the Ministry of Defense. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sacked defense minister Sergei Shoigu, right, and moved him to the national security council. AP

Despite having more than two decades of experience in government as an economics specialist and advisor for the Kremlin, Belousov has no military experience, according to the Kremlin.  

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed it was only “natural” for Putin to put a civilian in charge of defense to help introduce new ideas to the department. 

“The Defense Ministry must be absolutely open to innovation, to introduce advanced ideas and to create conditions for economic competitiveness — that’s why the president chose the candidacy of Andrei Removich Belousov,” Peskov told reporters.

Belousov’s appointment must first be approved by Russian lawmakers, who are little more than a rubber stamp for the Kremlin.

Andrei Belousov has been proposed as new defense minister.
Andrei Belousov has been proposed as new defense minister. AP

The shakeup comes after a difficult year for Shoigu, who has faced mounting pressure over the stagnant war in Ukraine and the short-lived Wagner mercenary uprising under Yevgeny Prigozhin.       

Shoigu also saw one of his deputies, Timur Ivanov, arrested last month for allegedly taking major bribes in the biggest corruption case since the war began. 

Now it’ll be Belousov who oversees Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, which heated up over the weekend after the Kremlin’s forces began to seize villages in the northeast province of Kharkiv. 

The new siege has forced Ukrainian civilians to feel the one-liberated province to avoid some of the most intense fighting of the war so far. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensk maintains that Russia does not have the manpower to capitalize on the attack on Kharkiv, vowing that Kyiv will retaliate.  

“We are sending more troops to the Kharkiv sector,” Zelensky said Saturday. “Both along our state border and along the entire front line, we will invariably destroy (Russian forces) in such a way as to disrupt any Russian offensive intentions.”

With Post wires

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