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Russia’s Putin to remove Sergei Shoigu as defence minister | Russia-Ukraine war News

The president proposes Andrei Belousov as defense minister and Sergei Shoigu as secretary of the Security Council.

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to remove Sergei Shoigu as defense minister in a cabinet reshuffle, making him secretary of the Security Council.

Andrei Belousov, a former deputy prime minister specializing in economics, will become the new defense minister, the Kremlin announced on Sunday.

This upheaval comes as Putin begins his fifth term. In accordance with Russian law, the entire cabinet resigned on Tuesday after Putin’s inauguration in the Kremlin.

Belousov’s candidacy will have to be approved by the upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council.

Shoigu was appointed defense minister in 2012, two years before Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

One of Shoigu’s deputies, Timur Ivanov, was arrested last month on corruption charges and ordered to remain in detention pending an official investigation. The arrest was widely interpreted as an attack on Shoigu and a possible precursor to his dismissal despite his close ties to Putin.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Sunday that Putin decided to give the defense portfolio to a civilian because the ministry needed to be “open to innovation and cutting-edge ideas” and that Belousov was the ideal person for this position.

Putin won the March election by receiving 87 percent of the vote in a poll that analysts said lacked democratic legitimacy after several candidates opposed to the war in Ukraine were barred from running by the Central Election Commission.

The reshuffle comes as thousands more civilians have fled Russia’s new ground offensive in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region, which has targeted towns and villages under artillery barrage and mortars.

Intense fighting has forced at least one Ukrainian unit to withdraw as Russian forces seize more territory in less defended settlements in the gray zone along the Russian border.

On Sunday afternoon, the city of Vovchansk, one of the largest in the northeast with a pre-war population of 17,000, became the focal point of the battle.

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