Putin’s Surprise: Civilian Economist or the Secret to Victory in Ukraine?

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**Putin Surprises with Civilian Defense Minister to Wage Economic War in Ukraine**

In a surprising move, Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed Andrei Belousov, a 65-year-old civilian economist, as the new Defense Minister. This unprecedented step underscores Putin’s determination to harness the power of economics to power Russia’s war machine in Ukraine.

Girding for Economic War

As the conflict in Ukraine enters its third year, Putin has recognized the importance of fortifying Russia’s economy and utilizing its budget more effectively to support the war effort. Belousov, a highly experienced economist, is expected to play a pivotal role in this endeavor.

“The one who is more open to innovations is the one who will be victorious on the battlefield,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “Our spending must align and integrate better with the overall economy.”

Andrei Belousov: The New Commander-in-Chief

Belousov is a staunch ally of Putin and shares his vision of a powerful, economically prosperous state. He has also collaborated with technocrats seeking to foster innovation and openness. As the former overseer of Russia’s drone program, he brings valuable expertise to the defense sector.

His appointment indicates that Putin is doubling down on the Ukraine war, convinced that Russia can overcome Western sanctions and emerge victorious through economic might.

Restructuring the Command

Along with appointing Belousov, Putin has also elevated Sergei Shoigu, the long-serving Defense Minister, to the post of Secretary of the Security Council. Shoigu will also assume responsibility for the military-industrial complex. This move maintains balance and continuity within Russia’s complex political system.

Another notable change is the retention of Valery Gerasimov as Chief of the General Staff. Gerasimov remains the hands-on commander of Russia’s war effort, reporting directly to Putin.

Economic Stability Amidst Conflict

Despite facing unprecedented sanctions, Russian economists have largely ensured economic stability and growth. Putin’s move to place an economist at the helm of the Defense Ministry suggests he plans to leverage this economic strength to bolster the military.

“Putin may be planning to win the war with the defense industry plants and international markets,” said Alexander Baunov, a former Russian diplomat. “By strengthening the economy’s partnership with the military, he aims to exert slow pressure on Ukraine.”

Addressing Criticism and Challenges

Shoigu’s tenure as Defense Minister has been marred by military setbacks and criticism from some quarters. To mitigate this, Putin has given him a senior role in the Security Council, saving his face and providing continuity.

The appointment of an economist to the Defense Ministry also reflects the need for greater accountability and scrutiny of defense spending. Recent allegations of corruption involving a former deputy defense minister underscore the importance of financial management in the war effort.

Engaging an Economist: A Strategic Play

Putin’s decision to tap an economist for the Defense Ministry is a bold and calculated move. By harnessing economic expertise, he aims to:

  • Integrate defense spending with the wider economy
  • Promote innovation within the military-industrial complex
  • Ensure efficient allocation of funds within the defense budget
  • Mitigate corruption risks and enhance accountability

This transformative shift reflects Putin’s determination to harness all aspects of Russian might, including economics, to secure victory in Ukraine.

Data sourced from: cnbc.com