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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in July 2023. (Photo by Russian Defense Minister/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on May 12 proposed firing Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and nominated Andrei Belousov to replace him, according to the Telegram channel of the Federation Council, the Russian parliament's upper house.

Russia's defense minister is appointed by the president after consultations with the Federation Council.

Shoigu has faced criticism from Russia's pro-war hawks for mishandling the war effort in Ukraine.

Belousov started his career as a protege of former Economy Minister German Gref, a free-market liberal, and served as a deputy economy minister in 2006-2008.

Belousov was Russia's economy minister in 2012-2013, an aide to Putin in 2013-2020, and first deputy prime minister in 2020-2024. He is considered a supporter of boosting military spending and mobilizing the country's economy for the war effort, according to Russian independent publication Verstka.

He has also consistently called for increasing government spending in general and raising taxes on businesses.

Belousov is a pro-war imperialist who believes that Russia is surrounded by enemies, according to sources cited by the Bell, a Russian publication. In 2014 he was the only supporter of Russia's annexation of Crimea among Putin's economic advisors, according to the Bell.

According to Russian media, Belousov is a staunch Putin loyalist and a member of his inner circle.

Putin will appoint Shoigu as the secretary of Russia's security council, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Shoigu is replacing Nikolai Patrushev, who has been the council's secretary since 2008.

He also said that Shoigu would oversee the work of the Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation and would be Putin's deputy on the Defense Industry Commission.

Peskov said that Putin had decided to appoint a civilian as defense minister since the “ministry should be open to innovation and progressive ideas.” He went on to praise Belousov's performance as economy minister and cited this as a reason for his appointment.

"Today those who are more open to innovation... win on the battlefield," he added.

Commenting on Belousov's tasks, he said that Russia's defense and security budget had risen from 3% to 6.7% of the gross domestic product, and it's important for the Kremlin "to integrate the military-industrial complex into the country's economy."

Meanwhile, Valery Gerasimov will remain the chief of Russia's General Staff, Peskov added.

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