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ISW: Putin prepares for protracted war in Ukraine and possibly for future confrontation with NATO

Experts suggest that the Kremlin expects newly-appointed Defense Minister Andrei Belousov to enhance the country’s defense industry to bolster weapon production for the war against Ukraine.
The Red Square in Moscow. Credit: The Center for European Policy Analysis
ISW: Putin prepares for protracted war in Ukraine and possibly for future confrontation with NATO

Russian leader Vladimir Putin reshuffled his defense team in Moscow as the Kremlin continues to prepare for a protracted war in Ukraine and possibly prepare for a future confrontation with NATO, according to the Institute of Study of War.

On 12 May, Russian President Vladimir Putin replaced Sergei Shoigu with Andrei Belousov as Russian Minister of Defense, moving Shoigu to the position of Security Council Secretary instead of Nikolai Patrushev.

Belousov is a former Russian Minister of Economic Development from 2012–2013 and has no military experience, as well as Shoigu, who also lacked experience in managing defense activities before he took over the Defense Ministry.

The experts say the Kremlin expects Belousov to coordinate and strengthen the Russian defense industrial base for it to produce more weapons for the war against Ukraine.

Sources in the Russian government say that Belousov will work in his new role to “competently organize work and logistics processes, ensure the necessary production and supplies, orient the economy towards the ‘special military operation,’ and squeeze the technological maximum out of the defense industry.”

Boosting technology and productivity in Russia’s defense industry, especially in drones, is vital for the Kremlin’s military strategy. Belousov, with his civilian government experience, is likely tasked by Putin to align economic policies with defense priorities, aiming for better integration and their long-term scale mobilization.

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