Interesting reports from the State News Agency, TASS, of Russian Minister of Defense Shoigu moving to replace the long-time National Security Advisor Nikolai Patrushev. Lots of potential implications. Initial thoughts…

If Patrushev doesn’t become the Prime Minister, the only arguable promotion, he will retire. Although Patrushev is old, he has at times been considered an alternative or successor to Putin, especially in a crisis/ palace coup scenario. Patrushev is a dangerous hawk.

Sidelining Patrushev would be an effective way to both neutralize a potential Putin challenger/ alternative power center and moderate the extremely aggressive party of war faction that constantly advocates for ratcheting up conflict with the U.S. and the West.

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The new MinDef Belousov, is a technocrat without Defense experience, but nevertheless a competent and trusted manager. He has no independent power base within the MoD and is thus completely reliant on Putin’s favor. This would be another move to insulate Putin.

With regards to the Ukraine war, a new Minister of Defense doesn’t have a huge impact on the current summer campaign. It normally suggests a new Chief of the General Staff, but given the inexperience of Belousov, that seems unlikely.

However, if the Russian summer campaign goes poorly, Gerasimov might be out. The MinDef and Gerasimov have run Defense/ military for 12 years. A shakeup is libel to have many in the armed forces guessing. In the political context, after Putin’s reelection, the shuffle makes sense. However, in the context of the kickoff of the summer campaign it’s a bit strange.

EU Top Diplomat Says Ukraine Has Right to Strike Russia
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EU Top Diplomat Says Ukraine Has Right to Strike Russia

Key backers including the United States and Germany have been reluctant to permit Kyiv to strike over the border out of fear that it could drag them closer to direct conflict with Moscow.

Reprinted from the author’s blog Why It Matters. See the original here

The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.

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