The case of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu
From Putin Whisperer to Russia’s Scapegoat
Russia’s military is weakened by the war in Ukraine. Tempers are heating up in Russia. One in particular has come under fire: Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu — once Putin’s closest confidante.
Sergei Shoigu (right) and Vladimir Putin (left) are close friends. Here in 2017 while fishing in Siberia.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, 67, and Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin, 70, were once close friends. They often traveled together. That’s how they went to Siberia five years ago and were photographed smiling shirtless while fishing.
But that is a thing of the past. After the war in Ukraine, there is an ice age between the former friends. Relations have deteriorated to the extent that Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, no longer briefs Putin.
Minister Sergei Shoigu: “Liberation of Donbass is the ultimate goal”(00:43)
Putin ignored the Ministry of Defense
The Kremlin chief is to receive combat information directly from commanders in Ukraine. Also, the President directly commands the commanders on the battlefield.
Putin distances himself from Shoigu. US military experts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) explain that the defense secretary is being used as a scapegoat. This is in the course of partial demobilization and losses in Ukraine.
He advertises to new recruits: Russian admits significant casualties(00:46)
Kremlin leader exonerates Shoigu’s mistakes
For example, Putin should amend his decree on demobilization and expel Russian students from military service. According to Russian media, he was corrected because “the Ministry of Defense did not make timely changes to the legal framework for the list of those not required to be mobilized.”
Putin directly criticized the Defense Ministry. And his former friend Shoigu, “Putin wants to use as a scapegoat for the failure of his invasion of Ukraine.”
Kadyrov shoots Shoigu
There is also criticism of Shoigu from Putin’s side. For example, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (46) publicly flogged the Ministry of Defense. Kadyrov, known as Putin’s “bloodhound,” shared on Telegram last weekend: “We abandoned many settlements and a large area today due to the lack of basic military logistics.”
Yevgeny Prigozhin (61), head of the “Wagner” mercenary force, publicly accused the Ministry of Defense. Everyone seems to agree that Shoigu is responsible for the losses.
Will the Defense Minister be sacked?
Criticism has also come from the illegally annexed Kherson region. Executive Vice President Kirill Stremoso, 45, lashed out at Shoigu in a shared video message. However, he backtracked and said he was not targeting the defense sector. He means “a few incompetent generals”.
Will Shoigu become Defense Minister soon? Withdrawal may take more time. According to ISW, Putin “will continue to blame Shoigu for current military failures and will delay the withdrawal if he feels like it.” (eu)
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