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Putin Boosts Russia's War Machine By Turning To A Technocrat

Photo-AFP

In an unexpected late-night move, President Vladimir Putin orchestrated a major shakeup within Russia's defense and security apparatus, signaling a renewed focus on mobilizing the country's military capabilities amidst ongoing tensions with the West, particularly in the context of the conflict in Ukraine. The overhaul saw the appointment of Andrey Belousov, a former economy aide and First Deputy Prime Minister, as the new defense minister, replacing Sergei Shoigu, who had held the position since 2012 and is now set to assume a new role as secretary of Russia's security council. Nikolai Patrushev, a longtime ally of Putin, was dismissed from his post as secretary of the security council, with his future role yet to be specified.

The decision to appoint Belousov, known for his advocacy of greater state control over the economy, is seen as a strategic move aimed at bolstering Russia's military-industrial complex and optimizing defense spending efficiency. Drawing parallels with former US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, Putin appears to be prioritizing economic competitiveness and efficiency in military procurement, reflecting a desire to enhance Russia's military capabilities amid ongoing geopolitical challenges.

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The reshuffle comes amidst escalating tensions in Ukraine, with Russian troops advancing in the northeastern Kharkiv region in a new offensive. Putin's determination to achieve strategic objectives in the conflict, particularly the seizure of eastern Ukraine's Donbas region, underscores the significance of the defense overhaul in aligning military strategy with economic imperatives. Additionally, the upcoming visit to China underscores the importance of Russia's strategic partnership with Beijing in navigating international sanctions and geopolitical challenges.

Belousov's appointment reflects a broader transformation of the Russian economy into a "war economy," characterized by increased defense spending and state intervention in key sectors. With defense spending approaching historically high levels, there is a growing emphasis on optimizing resource allocation and enhancing military capabilities to counter perceived threats from the West.

The shuffle within Russia's defense and security establishment is among the most significant changes since Putin's consolidation of power in 2020. As Putin extends his tenure as president and solidifies his grip on power, the reshuffle underscores his commitment to shaping Russia's security apparatus in alignment with his strategic vision. However, the fate of key figures like Patrushev remains uncertain, highlighting the evolving dynamics within Putin's inner circle and the broader trajectory of Russian foreign and security policy.

May 13, 2024 4:14 p.m. 3649

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