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Dangerous enemy of Ukraine. Who is Andrey Belousov and why did Putin remove Shoigu for him?

Dangerous enemy of Ukraine. Who is Andrey Belousov and why did Putin remove Shoigu for him? Photo: Future Russian Defense Minister Andrey Belousov (Getty Images)

Vladimir Putin has removed Sergei Shoigu from the position of Minister of Defense, a position he held for 12 years. Former Deputy Prime Minister and economic policy advisor to Putin, Andrey Belousov, is proposed to replace him.

More details about the personnel reshuffle, who Belousov is, and how this appointment will affect the war can be found in the material by RBC-Ukraine.

Sources: materials from the Russian independent media outlet Verstka, Bloomberg, The Times, statements by Western politicians, posts by advisor to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podoliak on Telegram, and comments by expert Vladyslav Seleznov.


Shoigu is dismissed. Who will replace him?

On the eve, Putin submitted proposals for candidates for the heads of security agencies. Surprisingly, among those he suggested to reappoint, there was no the Minister of Defense, Sergei Shoigu.

In a separate decree, Putin appointed him Secretary of the Security Council. This position had been held for 16 years by Nikolai Patrushev, one of the security officials close to Putin. The reason for his resignation is a transfer to another job.

According to Russian legislation, the Secretary of the Security Council is appointed without consultation, so the personnel decision took effect immediately. The candidacy of Shoigu's successor, 65-year-old Andrey Belousov, who is the first deputy prime minister and was previously Putin's economic ideologue, will be discussed at the Federation Council on May 14.

At the same time, most security officials will retain their positions. Reappointment is proposed for the Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev, the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin, the director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov, and the head of the National Guard Viktor Zolotov. Also, the long-standing Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov will remain in office.

Небезпечний ворог України. Хто такий Андрій Білоусов і чому Путін зняв заради нього Шойгу

Photo: Sergei Shoigu was removed from the position of Russian Defense Minister, which he held for 12 years (Getty Images)

The need for a change in the Minister of Defense by Putin was explained by the necessity for the ministry to be open to innovations, the implementation of new ideas, and the creation of conditions for economic competitiveness. That is why Belousov was chosen, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“Today on the battlefield, the winner is the one who is more open to innovation. Therefore, it is natural that at the current stage, the president decided that the Russian Ministry of Defense should be headed by a civilian,” Peskov said.

Peskov added that Belousov was not just a civilian but a former Minister of Economy and an economic advisor to Putin. His appointment will not change the military component, which is the responsibility of Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

It is known that Shoigu will also become the head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation and become Putin's deputy in the Military-Industrial Commission.

Who is Andrey Belousov?

The Russian independent media outlet Verstka describes Belousov as Putin's economic ideologue. He was considered a lever of influence for Putin in the government as opposed to Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

It is expected that Belousov will be responsible for the economics of war rather than the "shifting of arrows on the map." The situation at the front is the responsibility of the General Staff, while the new Minister of Defense will focus on the rear.

According to Verstka, Belousov is a supporter of the mobilization model of the economy, enjoys Putin's confidence and “knows how to count money.” With his appointment, the priority will be the optimization of military spending.

Probably, dissatisfaction with Shoigu in the Kremlin is connected with the prolonged war against Ukraine. In addition, wastefulness and ambition played against him. Shoigu was also on notice because of a corruption scandal in the ministry. In late April, Deputy Minister Timur Ivanov was detained and accused of taking bribes of more than 1 billion rubles (over $12 million).

Andrey Belousov is primarily an economist. Russian media note that he learned a lot from his father, Rem Belousov, who was one of the ascetics of Alexei Kosygin, chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers.

Among Belousov's merits is his contribution of ideas related to the symbiosis of statehood and the market to Russia.

Небезпечний ворог України. Хто такий Андрій Білоусов і чому Путін зняв заради нього Шойгу

Photo: Putin chose Andrey Belousov to rebuild the military economy (Getty Images)

Putin came to this personnel decision in part because he studies history and has in mind the example of former US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Bloomberg writes, citing a source in the Russian government.

As Secretary of Defense under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s, McNamara overhauled military procurement during the Vietnam War to increase efficiency.

However, like Shoigu, Belousov comes to the Ministry of Defense without a military education. As Ukraine begins to receive tens of billions of dollars within the new aid package, Moscow faces the challenge of maximizing military spending, which is rising to historic levels. Currently estimated at 6.7% of GDP, military spending is approaching the levels of expenditure in the USSR during the height of the Cold War in the 1980s. The economic crisis was one of the main reasons for the further collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Belousov’s appointment is a sign that the Russian economy is being transformed into a war economy,” Bloomberg quotes Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Reactions in Ukraine and the world

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda calls the appointment of Belousov as Russia's defense minister a step to continue the war in Ukraine. He believes there's no illusion of Putin's regime preparing for peaceful negotiations and suggests Putin is trying to take the initiative of the war as much as possible.

British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps emphasizes that Shoigu is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers and the suffering of Ukrainians. But instead of appointing a minister who will put an end to the invasion, Russia will get another “Putin's puppet.”

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the head of the Presidential Office, believes that the personnel rotation in Russia indicates the country's final transition to “war communism” with totalitarian militarization of the economy and building up the army's supply to ensure an endless war.

In his opinion, this could lead to the curbing of army corruption, which flourished with Shoigu, and the gradual squeezing out of the ambitions of Nikolai Patrushev's group, which indicates a growing distrust within Putin's vertical.

“Conclusion: Russia is finally isolating itself and will try to scale up the war, expand its formats while readjusting the economy to function in acutely shortage formats, which are somehow capable of providing a sharp increase in the military component. In any case, there are no options for Russia to return to adequate participation in global processes, and therefore any negotiation formats are impossible,” Podoliak concluded.

What does Shoigu's replacement by Belousov mean for Ukraine?

The replacement of Shoigu with Belousov could signify disappointment with the inability to defeat Ukraine in the ongoing third-year war. The former minister was the target of last year's mutiny by Wagner mercenary leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who blamed him for failures on the front, Bloomberg reminds.

Currently, Russian troops have launched a new offensive in the north of Kharkiv region. Putin is determined to achieve the minimum goal of completely seizing Donbas. Thus, the unexpected change of the minister signals Putin's determination to mobilize the economy for a long and intense conflict, the agency emphasizes.

Небезпечний ворог України. Хто такий Андрій Білоусов і чому Путін зняв заради нього Шойгу

Photo: Belousov is expected to assist Putin in mobilizing the economy for a protracted war (Russian media)

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) agree that Belousov's appointment is related to preparations for a prolonged war. He has a reputation as an effective technocrat and has been involved in the development and production of unmanned systems. A focus on technological innovation will probably be extremely beneficial to the Kremlin. Putin hopes that Belousov will use his experience to unite federal economic policy with the defense ministry's program and further mobilize the defense industry.

The Times calls the replacement of Shoigu with Belousov one of the biggest personnel changes in the Russian government in the last decade. The reason for this is most likely the wastefulness of the armed forces and incompetence of the former minister. According to military analyst Rob Lee, the appointment reflects the need for a better manager of the defense ministry's bureaucracy.

“Putin’s goal is to enhance arms production effectiveness and optimally meet military needs. In this context, Belousov is a logical choice", said Tatiana Stanovaya, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center.

Vladyslav Seleznov, a military expert and former spokesman for the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, is confident that Shoigu's dismissal will affect military processes, and not in a favorable way for Ukraine.

“If Shoigu to a certain extent became the personification of corruption that has swept the Russian Defense Ministry, then Belousov is a true technocrat,” he told RBC-Ukraine.

He also recalled that since the 1990s, Belousov was a member of the “Bessmertnykh group” - a foreign policy association whose foundation was formed, among others, by Gleb Pavlovsky, a political technologist of Putin and Viktor Yanukovych in the 2004 elections.

Thus, Belousov is likely to focus on the following transformations. First, on creating an attractive atmosphere in the Russian environment for military service. Secondly, on concentrating the activities of the Russian defense industry as part of the transition to wartime rails.

"He is a rational person who will do everything to maximize the militarization of the economy for a prolonged military confrontation. Russia will fight for a long time. To make the campaign successful for Moscow, someone who knows how to show that the Russian armed forces are cool and, on the other hand, mobilize the economy, is appointed as a defense minister," noted the expert.

According to Seleznov, Belousov will undoubtedly become a dangerous enemy for Ukraine.

"It's no coincidence I mentioned his participation in the association with Pavlovsky. Political technologists know how social processes work. They shape trends and movements, so I think he will use all his experience to fulfill the two missions I mentioned,” he added.