May 19, 2024
In this pool photograph distributed by the Russian state agency Sputnik, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Guinea-Bissau President on the sidelines of Victory Day celebrations in Moscow on May 9, 2024.

Putin Shake-Up Signals a Long War May Be Coming

Kremlin watchers and security experts consider Putin’s cabinet shake-up as signaling that Putin’s gaze has passed from Ukraine to a long, protracted war, against the West

Russian leader Vladimir Putin, beginning his fifth term as the President of Russia, announced changes in key personnel responsible for the Russian security structure that some fear could indicate that a longer, larger war between Russia and the West may be on the horizon.

In a move that surprised Kremlin-watchers, Sergei Shoigu, the longtime Minister of Defense, was removed. Recently, several scandals had swirled around Shoigu, including a bribe of over $10 million that had allegedly been paid to one of his deputies.

Leonid Nezvlin, a strong opponent of Putin’s government, wrote on Telegram that the criminal cases opened against Shoigu’s allies “indicate dissatisfaction with army logistics and the military-industrial complex.”

The corruption scandal, combined with the fact that Shoigu, who does not come from a military background, had failed to adequately prepare the Russian military for its invasion of Ukraine or to prudently reform the military over the past two-and-a-half-years, has led many to find ready justifications for why Putin decided a change of leadership in the military was necessary.

Noteworthy is that Shoigu was not arrested nor sent into retirement, rather he was relegated to a position in the Security Council, indicating that he has not fallen totally out-of-favor with Putin.

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