The United States characterized Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to replace his defense minister as a sign of "desperation" over the escalating costs of the Ukraine invasion.

"This move further indicates Putin's desperation to sustain his war of aggression against Ukraine, despite its significant toll on the Russian economy and heavy losses of Russian troops, with some estimates as high as 315,000 casualties," State Department spokesman Vedant Patel stated on Monday, May 13.

"The Kremlin's continued aggression has caused immense suffering for countless families," Patel added.

"Russia initiated this unprovoked war against Ukraine. Putin could end it at any time by withdrawing his forces from Ukraine."

Putin, embarking on an unprecedented fifth term as president, replaced veteran defense minister Sergei Shoigu with top economic official and technocrat Andrei Belousov.


Who Is Andrey Belousov, Russia’s New Defense Minister?

Many believe that Belousov’s appointment as the new defense minister signifies Putin’s plan to make Russia – which, by many accounts, is already a war economy – yet more focused on war.

Others believe Belousov’s appointment is related to Putin tightening control. Long-standing corruption – as highlighted by the recent arrest of Shoigu’s aide – has plagued the defense ministry.

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