Shoigu out as Russian Defense Minister after 11+ years, his appointment has no military experience

Andrey Belousov (on the left), Sergey Shoigu, Nikolai Patrushev
Andrey Belousov (on the left), Sergey Shoigu, Nikolai Patrushev

In an unexpected move, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin replaced Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu with Andrey Belousov, previously the first deputy prime minister, according to Putin's May 12 decree.

Shoigu will instead replace Nikolai Patrushev as Security Council Secretary.

Patrushev was "dismissed as Security Council Secretary in connection with the transition to another job", the decree said.

There was no announcement to which position Patrushev would be moved.

Patrushev had headed the Security Council since May 2008, while Shoigu headed the Defense Ministry since Nov. 6, 2012.

NV follows changes in the Russian government online.

“Shoigu will oversee the work of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation of the Russian Federation and will continue to work in the field he knows from the inside,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed, adding that Shoigu will also be Putin's deputy in the Russian Industrial Commission, Russian propaganda agency TASS reported shortly after 10 p.m. MSK on May 12.

"As for the military component, this appointment will not change the current strategy in any way. The military component has always been the prerogative of the General Staff Chief and he will continue his activities. No changes are foreseen in this plan yet," Peskov told Russian media.

The Federation Council will consider Belousov's candidacy for Defense Minister on May 13-14, Russian opposition publication Meduza wrote 10 minutes later.

Valery Gerasimov will retain his position as General Staff Chief, Peskov claimed.

Read also: Polish intelligence chief warns Putin prepares for ‘mini-operation’ in NATO territory, awaits Western response

The replacement of Shoigu by Belousov strongly suggests that Putin is taking significant steps in the direction of mobilizing the Russian economy and defense-industrial complex - especially to support its protracted war in Ukraine and, possibly, to prepare for a future confrontation with NATO, the Institute for the Study of War said on May 13 about the changes in Russian personnel.

Belousov has no military experience, NV reports.

He was previously the Economic Development Minister from 2012 to 2013, before becoming Putin's assistant from 2013 to 2020. Most recently, he was appointed the first deputy head of the Russian government on Jan. 21, 2020.

Belousov supervised the economic bloc in the Russian government for four years, Novaya Gazeta Evropa claimed, adding that Putin intends to appoint the son of his friend Yuriy Kovalchuk, Boris, as head of the Accounting Chamber.

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