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Who is Russia’s new defense minister? – DW – 05/13/2024

Who is Russia’s new defense minister?  – DW – 05/13/2024

At the start of his fifth term as President, Vladimir Putin Reorganizes his country further towards a war economy. An economist with no military experience is now going to help him in this endeavour.

Putin has Andrei Belousov was appointed Minister of Defense, former Deputy Prime Minister. Parliamentary approval is considered binding. Former Defense Minister, Sergei ShoiguChairman of the National Security Council.

Belousov did not even complete his military service. But by being elected, Putin wants to better position himself for a war against Ukraine.

“Today, the winner on the battlefield is more open to innovation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented on the change. The “power block economy” should be better integrated into the “economy of the country”.

Russian-American political scientist Nina Khrushcheva told DW that Belousov was “the most suitable candidate” for the job. Pelozov seems to have made a name for himself as a calm and professional technician.

“On the one hand, it is not rejected by market economists; on the other hand, it affirms the primacy of the state in the economy,” he said. So, who took over the Russian defense portfolio in the middle of the war?

“Victory Day” parade, May 9, 2024 in Moscow. Shoigu (right) was the defense minister.Image: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo/Image Alliance

A close confidant of Putin

Andrei Belousov, the Moscow-born son of an economist, is 65 years old. He also studied economics following his father’s footsteps.

Later he studied market forecasts at the Russian Academy of Sciences. He advised the government and was Deputy Minister of Economy between 2006 and 2008.

The year 2008 was decisive in his career. At the time, Putin, who had moved from the post of president to the post of prime minister, appointed him head of his economic department. This has put him in direct contact with Putin. Since then, Pelozov has been linked to the Russian president’s inner circle.

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His direct dependence on Putin and the fact that Pelozov does not belong to any of the factions vying for influence in the Kremlin make him less likely to be corrupt. His predecessor, Shoigu, was often accused of corruption. More recently, even Shoigu’s deputy was detained, which many observers rightly interpreted as a sign that he would soon be removed.

A technocrat who supported the annexation of Crimea

As Putin’s man, Pelozov has served as Minister of Economy (2012 to 2013), Economic Adviser to the President (2013 to 2020) and, most recently, Deputy Prime Minister since 2020. In these positions, he played an important role. In the structure of Russian economic policy in recent years. He is known as a supporter of state investment in the economy.

A few years ago, the Russian portal “The Bell” reported that he was one of the few economists in Putin’s entourage who supported the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Pelusov is also said to consider Russia “surrounded by enemies”. This worldview may also explain his closeness to Putin.

“In recent years, Pelozov has become obsessed with the idea of ​​Russian technological sovereignty,” writes Farida Rustamova, a Russian freelance journalist who specializes in Russian elites, in the Telegram news service.

The concept of technological development until 2030, developed under Pelusov’s leadership, calls for Russia to learn to produce chips, high-precision machines, medical devices and software, airplanes and drones, Rustamova writes.

“Belousov is interested in innovations in weapons systems, and it is clear that this will be one of his priorities,” confirms Alexandra Prokopenko of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center in Berlin in an interview with DW.

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“The Kremlin’s priority right now is war,” said Prokopenko, who worked at the Russian central bank. “They believe in military Keynesianism, which means that investing in the military-industrial complex can boost economic growth in the long run.”

(gg/ers)