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UK intel: No shift on war in Ukraine expected after Russia replaced Shoigu with Belousov as defense minister

Russia’s appointment of economist Belousov as new defense minister, replacing Shoigu, is unlikely to have major immediate effect on Russia’s approach to war in Ukraine, per UK intelligence.
uk intel shift war ukraine expected after russia replaced shoigu belousov defense minister russian outgoing sergei l his successor andrei r collage cnn 20240512shoigubelousovsplit
Russian outgoing defense minister Sergei Shoigu (L) and and his successor Andrei Belousov (R). Collage: CNN
UK intel: No shift on war in Ukraine expected after Russia replaced Shoigu with Belousov as defense minister

Russia replaced defense minister Shoigu with economist Belousov. However, the British Defense Ministry says in its intelligence update, the change of Defense Minister is highly unlikely to have a major immediate impact on the prosecution of the Russian war in Ukraine. With Putin also announcing that there will be no changes to senior appointments in the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, the current Russian approach to the war is likely to continue.

The ministry wrote:

  • In a surprise reshuffle the Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has been replaced by First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, with Shoigu replacing Nikolai Patrushev as Secretary of the Russian Security Council. Patrushev has been appointed a Presidential Aide. Shoigu and Patrushev are influential and long-teen allies of Russian President Putin.
  • Belousov is a professional economist with no military background. He was First Deputy Prime Minister from January 2020, and prior to that served as a Presidential Aide for economic issues. It is likely that he has been appointed to ensure greater efficiency in defence spending and to ensure closer coordination between defence industries and the needs of the Armed Forces.
  • This is likely to prove extremely challenging for Belousov given the high degrees of corruption in the Russian MOD and Armed Forces. Deputy Defence Minister Timur Ivanov was arrested in April 2024 on corruption charges, and the head of personnel General-Lieutenant Yury Kuznetsov was arrested on 14 May 2024 on suspicion of involvement in a bribery scheme.
  • The change of Defence Minister is highly unlikely to have a major immediate impact on the prosecution of the Russian war in Ukraine. With Putin also announcing that there will be no changes to senior appointments in the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces the current Russian approach to the war is likely to continue.

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