Why has Putin removed ally Sergei Shoigu as Russia’s defence minister?


But what’s interesting is that Vladimir Putin chose this moment to make the switch. The president had stuck by Shoigu in 2022 when Russia was suffering military setbacks in Ukraine.

He’d stuck by him again in 2023 during the minister’s very public spat with the late Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who had accused Shoigu of corruption and demanded he be sacked.

Now, when Russia claims to have seized the initiative on the battlefield, the Kremlin leader has replaced his defence minister. It shows once again that Vladimir Putin doesn’t like acting under pressure. He takes decisions at a time of his choosing.

But there is one more feature of a Russian government reshuffle. It always leaves you asking questions. There are plenty after this one.

So here we go.

What next for Sergei Shoigu? Can he carve out a new power base in the Security Council, or is it inevitable that in his new post his power will be vastly reduced?

What next for the man he replaces in the Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev? For a long time considered one of the most powerful men in Russia, will Mr Patrushev retain his influence? And in what guise?

Does the appointment of a new defence minister mean that, at some point soon, there’ll be a new chief of the general staff in place of Valery Gerasimov?

Watch this space.


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