Russia’s Putin’s Decision to Remove Sergei Shoigu as Defense Minister | Russia-Ukraine War News

The President nominated Sergei Shoigu as Secretary of the Security Council and Andrei Peloso as Secretary of Defense.

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to remove Sergei Shoigu as Defense Minister and replace him as Secretary of the Security Council.

Andrei Belousov, a former deputy prime minister who specializes in economics, will become the new defense minister, the Kremlin said on Sunday.

The shakeup comes as Putin begins his fifth term in office. In accordance with Russian law, the entire cabinet resigned after Putin was sworn in at the Kremlin on Tuesday.

Peloso’s nomination must be approved by the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament.

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 bribery charges and ordered detained pending an official investigation. The arrest was widely interpreted as an attack on Shoigu and a possible prelude to his impeachment despite his close ties to Putin.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Sunday that Putin had decided to give the defense portfolio to a civilian because the ministry “must be open to innovation and cutting-edge ideas” and that Pelusov was perfect for the job.

Putin won the March election with 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 of civilians flee Russia’s renewed ground offensive in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, which has targeted towns and villages with a barrage of artillery and mortar attacks.

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Fierce fighting has forced the withdrawal of at least one Ukrainian unit as Russian forces seize more territory in the less defended settlements along the Russian border, known as the gray zone.

By Sunday afternoon, the city of Vovchansk, the largest city in the northeast with a pre-war population of 17,000, had emerged as a focal point in the battle.

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