Russian President Putin Removes Sergei Shoigu as Defense Minister Russia Ukraine War News.

The President nominated Andrei Belousov as Minister of Defense and Sergei Shoigu as Secretary of the Security Council.

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to remove Sergei Shoigu as defense minister and replace him as secretary of the Security Council as part of a cabinet reshuffle.

Andrei Belousov, a former deputy prime minister who specializes in economics, will become the new defense minister, the Kremlin said on Sunday.

The upheaval comes as Putin begins his fifth term as president. In accordance with Russian law, the entire cabinet resigned after Putin was sworn in at the Kremlin on Tuesday.

Belousov's candidacy would require approval from the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's parliament.

Shoigu was appointed defense minister in 2012, two years before Russia invaded and annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

One of Shoigu's deputies, Timur Ivanov, was arrested last month on bribery charges and ordered to remain in custody pending an official investigation. The arrest was widely seen as an attack on Shoigu and a possible prelude to his ouster despite his close ties to Putin.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Sunday that Putin had decided to give the defense portfolio to a civilian because the ministry “must be open to innovation and modern ideas” and that Belousov was suitable for the job.

Putin won the March election with 87 percent of the vote in a poll that analysts said was due to the Central Election Commission barring several candidates opposed to the war in Ukraine. The latter is not democratically justified.

The reshuffle comes as thousands more civilians have fled Russia's renewed ground offensive in northeastern Ukraine's Kharkiv region, which has hit towns and villages with artillery and mortar shells.

Fierce fighting has forced at least one Ukrainian unit to retreat as Russian forces seize more territory from less-defended settlements in the so-called gray zone along the Russian border.

By Sunday afternoon, the town of Vochansk, the largest town in the northeast, with a pre-war population of 17,000, emerged as a center in the war.

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