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ISW: Putin punishing Shoigu for failing to achieve Kremlin’s military goals in Ukraine

This follows the arrest of a deputy defense minister & suggests Putin blames Shoigu for failing to meet military goals in Ukraine. However, Shoigu’s dismissal seems unlikely in 2024.
putin shoihu
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. Credit: Ukrainska Pravda
ISW: Putin punishing Shoigu for failing to achieve Kremlin’s military goals in Ukraine

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reported on 2 May that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Tula Oblast Governor and known Wagner Group-affiliate Alexei Dyumin on May 2 indicates that Putin may be seeking to reduce Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s power by balancing him with rivals, reports suggest.

According to the ISW, Dyumin briefed Putin about Tula Oblast’s contributions to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine at the presidential estate in Novo-Ogaryovo, Moscow Oblast. Dyumin’s briefing appeared to be “an attempt to win Putin’s favor” after falling out of grace during the Wagner Group’s mutiny in June 2023.

The report states that “Putin likely deliberately publicized his meeting with Dyumin following the high-profile arrest of Russian Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov on April 24 and before the presidential inauguration on May 7, possibly to punish the Shoigu-led MoD for failing to accomplish the Kremlin’s military goals.”

Russian insider sources speculated that the Kremlin may appoint Dyumin to a new role involving the Russian defense industrial base, such as deputy chairman of the Russian Military Industrial Commission.

According to the report, Shoigu’s statement on May 1 about the need to increase the volume and quality of weapons and military equipment was interpreted by some as “a direct attack on certain Russian political figures.”

ISW cited a political commentator, who claimed that Shoigu is trying to shift the blame for his military and defense industrial base failures onto others, including Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov and the CEO of Rostec, Sergei Chemezov.

The ISW reported a Russian insider source as saying that Shoigu heavily criticized Manturov, Rostec, and Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev in response to Ivanov’s arrest. However, a Russian source assessed that Shoigu’s dismissal is unlikely in 2024, according to the ISW.

Other takeaways from the report:

  • Ukrainian intelligence officials identified three Russian efforts to destabilize Ukraine and achieve victory, and both Ukrainian and US intelligence officials issued assessments about the battlefield situation that are consistent with prior ISW forecasts that Russian forces may take Chasiv Yar but are very unlikely to seize major Ukrainian cities.
  • Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Deputy Chief Major General Vadym Skibitskyi assessed that Russian forces will likely begin an offensive effort towards Kharkiv and Sumy oblasts at the end of May or the start of June 2024 but that Russian forces will not be able to take Kharkiv or Sumy cities.
  • The US Department of State (DoS) announced on May 1 that it had determined that Russian forces are violating the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), to which Russia is a signatory.
  • The Russian military may have recruited numerous prisoners with convictions for serious crimes in fall of 2023.

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