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Eastern Europe

Putin Shuffles Defense Apparatus In Kharkiv Advance

Russian President Vladimir Putin, upon his re-election to a fifth term, has reshuffled defense positions as Russia makes a strong push in the Kharkiv region.

Andrey Removich Belousov, currently First Deputy Prime Minister, has been appointed Defence Minister, replacing Sergey Shoigu. Shoigu will become Secretary of the powerful Security Council, replacing Nikolai Patrushev.

Nikolai Patrushev, one of the most hawkish and anti-Western members of Russia’s government, has been removed from his position as Secretary of the Security Council and transferred to an unspecified new position. Patrushev is known as particularly close, professionally, personally, and ideologically to Putin, whom he has known since the 1970s when the two worked together in St. Petersburg’s KGB, and had been regarded by some as a potential successor to Putin, reported Inkerman.

While the personnel changes suggest that Putin is likely seeking an acceleration and greater success in the Kharkiv offensive, the retention of other key figures such as Prime Minister Mishustin, Foreign Minister Lavrov, and armed forces chief Gerasimov suggests Putin is keen to project an image of overall regime stability. The appointment of Belushov, a civilian economist, as Defence Minister, also suggests that Putin could be seeking to improve Russia’s military logistics situation, which has struggled throughout the war.

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