US Says Putin's Dramatic Cabinet Reshuffle Smacks Of 'Desperation'

The Biden administration has reacted to Russian President Vladimir Putin's significant cabinet shake-up announced Sunday, wherein Putin tapped Andrey Belousov, a former deputy prime minister who specializes in economics, to move into the position of defense minister. Sergei Shoigu meanwhile has been moved to head Russia’s Security Council at the expense of Nikolai Patrushev. Shoigu can be seen as having in essence been given a promotion.

This big shuffle was unexpected, and the surprise has been registered in European capitals and Washington, with the US saying that this shows signs of "desperation" for Moscow sustaining the high costs of the Ukraine invasion.

"Our point of view is that this is further indication of Putin’s desperation to sustain his war of aggression against Ukraine, despite it being a major drain on the Russian economy and the heavy losses of Russian troops, with some estimates as high as 315,000 casualties," State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said to a press briefing Monday.

Then First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov meeting with Putin last year.

"The Kremlin’s mobilization of its war of aggression against Ukraine has caused so many families to suffer," he stated. "Russia started this unprovoked war against Ukraine. Putin could end it at any time by withdrawing his forces from Ukraine."

To be expected, Britain is also joining in on the US critique, with current and former officials agreeing that Putin's decision-making shows signs of 'instability'

Christopher Steele, a former MI6 intelligence officer, said the reshuffle suggested there was "serious instability right in the heart" of Russia’s regime.

He told Sky News that Patrushev being removed from his role as secretary of the Russian Security Council was "astonishing".

"It’s important to understand that he’s been one of Putin’s closest allies, former head of the FSB and so on for many years... and was rated by people to be probably the second most powerful man in Russia after Putin himself,” he said.

"I think what this indicates is not just a reshuffle along normal governmental lines. It’s really quite serious instability right in the heart of this regime”.

And yet, when it comes to the war itself, there's clear consensus even in Western press that Russia is advancing deeper into Ukraine.

Below is a statement via Russian state media's RT revealing some of Belousov's intended areas of focus as he is soon to take over the Ukraine war as defense minister:

* * *

During his confirmation hearing before the Federation Council on Monday, Belousov pointed out that servicemen fighting in the Ukraine campaign enjoy an adequate level of pay. “Today, the bar has been raised to at least 200,000 rubles ($2,200). In principle, people earn much more there. However, this is not just about cash payments and allowances. We still have work to do.”

...Belousov expressed outrage that veterans of the Ukraine conflict who come home on vacation “are being kicked out of civilian medical facilities and sent to hospitals, which are often overcrowded.”

Another issue is the red tape involved when military personnel seek to access their benefits, the nominee minister continued, adding that, ideally, this should be resolved with the help of electronic systems.

As the hearing wrapped up, the Federation Council’s press service said, as quoted by TASS, that the chamber would not make a public assessment of Belousov’s candidacy and that a letter on the matter would be sent to Putin. The deliberations on the nomination are expected to continue on Tuesday.

However, Valentina Matvienko, the head of the Federation Council, called the president’s pick for defense minister “a very fortunate choice.” She noted Russian senators are well acquainted with Belousov’s work and have interacted with him on numerous occasions.

Matvienko recalled that Russia’s defense spending had more than doubled in the midst of the Ukraine conflict. “Everything that the Defense Ministry orders... must be in line with the capabilities of the economy... The defense minister must be in constant contact with other ministries to organize this process efficiently,” she said, adding that Belousov has a lot of experience in this area.

(Article by Tyler Durden republished from

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