Sergey Shoigu sacked as Russian Defence Minister as Putin begins fifth term

May 13, 2024 | 21:35:25

Shoigu has been serving as the defence minister since 2012.

NEW DELHI: Russian President Vladimir Putin replaced Sergey Shoigu as Defence Minister with Andrey Belousov proposed to take charge, Russian media reported. Following Putin's inauguration as president for a fifth term last week, a Cabinet reshuffle was on the cards. While several officials were expected to stay put, Shoigu’s fate hung in the balance.

Belousov has previously served as Russia's first deputy prime minister. A report by the TASS news agency said that Shoigu has been appointed Secretary of the Security Council, replacing Nikolay Patrushev.

Shoigu has been serving as the defence minister since 2012.

Addressing a press conference, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the decision to appoint Belousov as the defence minister was linked to the need to "making the economy of the security bloc part of the country’s economy."

The TASS report said that other heads of security ministries and services, as well as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, will retain their posts in the government. 

The appointment of the former deputy PM has shocked many as he has no military background, but Belousov has been one of Putin’s most influential economic advisors over the last decade. 

Speaking about the change, Peskov told reporters that it made sense because Russia was approaching a situation like the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s when the military and law enforcement authorities accounted for 7.4 percent of state spending.

He added that it meant that it was “extremely important” to ensure such spending aligned with the country’s overall interests, which is why the Russian president wanted a civilian with an economics background as the defence minister. 

“Today on the battlefield, the winner is the one who is more open to innovation,” said Peskov. 

Belousov, 65, graduated from the Faculty of Economics of the Moscow State University in 1981 with distinction. In 2000, he was appointed a non-staff adviser to the Russian prime minister and joined the economy ministry as deputy minister six years later. 

Between 2008 and 2012, he was director of the Department for Economics and Finance in the government apparatus, the same years Putin served as prime minister. And in 2012, Belousov became the economics minister. 

From 2013 until 2020, Belousov served as adviser to the Russian president. From 2020, he worked as first deputy prime minister. When Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin got infected with Covid in 2020, Belousov briefly took on the prime minister's duties.