Who Is Andrey Belousov: Vladimir Putin Replaces Defense Minister Shoigu With Civilian Economist Without Military Experience

By Madz Dizon

May 12, 2024 08:54 PM EDT

Who Is Andrey Belousov: Vladimir Putin Replaces Defense Minister Shoigu With Civilian Economist Without Military Experience
Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov attends the 29th APEC Economic Leaders Meeting (AELM) during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok on November 19, 2022.
(Photo : JACK TAYLOR/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested a surprise new defense minister, proposing civilian Andrei Belousov, a former deputy prime minister with an economic background, for the position more than two years into the Ukraine conflict, according to the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin to Replace Russia's Defense Minister

Putin recommended that Andrei Belousov, a 65-year-old former deputy prime minister specializing in economics, replace his long-time buddy, Sergei Shoigu, 68, as defense minister. 

According to Reuters, Putin wants Shoigu, who has been in charge of defense since 2012 and is a long-time friend and ally, to become secretary of Russia's influential Security Council, succeeding Nikolai Patrushev, and to oversee the military-industrial complex.

The reforms, which are expected to be approved by the cabinet, are the most substantial Putin has made to the military leadership since deploying tens of thousands of soldiers into Ukraine in February 2022 for what he described as a special military operation.

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Who is Andrey Belousov?

Andrey Belousov assumes the position despite lacking any military experience or national security backgroundity. 

Belousov, an economist, temporarily assumed the position of acting prime minister for three weeks in 2020, when PM Mikhail Mishustin was affected by COVID-19. On Friday, Mishustin was once again appointed as the country's prime minister. 

According to Mirror, some may find the selection of Belousov to be unusual, given his limited military background. This decision could suggest that Putin intends to have a more hands-on approach to war strategies.

However, there has been a significant increase in Russian spending since the war started, as the country's economy shifted its focus towards supporting the war effort.

In November of last year, the Russian finance ministry anticipated a 12 percent increase in spending for that year. Surprisingly, Putin's 2018 promise to elevate Russia into the top five global economies has not materialized.

According to analysts, with Putin's re-election, there is a possibility that the government may resort to raising taxes and increasing military recruitment to finance the war.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov emphasized the importance of the Defense Ministry being receptive to innovation, as reported by the Moscow Times.

Peskov also hinted at Belousov's expertise in economics. According to him, the Russian defense should focus on implementing innovative concepts and fostering economic competitiveness. This is why the president selected Andrei Removich Belousov for the position.

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