The new Russian government – one person catches the eye

The appointment of some ministerial posts came as a surprise to many. One appointment in particular will have a significant impact on further developments in Russia.

René Zittlau

Introduction

After the inauguration of the Russian president, he is allowed to make personnel proposals for the new government – both in terms of structure and personnel. The final decision on ministerial posts is then made in the State Duma, the Russian parliament, and Vladimir Putin put some surprising proposals on the table. The response to these proposals, particularly in the West, makes a mockery of the political isolation preached in the West. So it seems that the West does care what happens in Moscow. But that is not the point of this article.

Political continuity

With his personnel proposals, Russian President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated a kind of continuity that now seems to be completely extinct in major politics in the West – Russia openly values continuity across election periods. Continuity in the shaping of desired political and economic developments, continuity in the perpetuation of desired social developments.

But not only that. The Russian leadership is looking for ways to significantly accelerate the development trends that have been underway for years and are already visible in some areas – in the economy, education, society and not least in the military.

The dismissal of Schoigu

The Russian President’s proposal for the post of Russian Defense Minister can be described as a bombshell. The appointment of the new incumbent, which has now taken place, will almost certainly have just as much of an impact. Both within the military and outside it.

The dismissal of the previous incumbent, Sergei Shoigu, took place a few weeks after the arrest of his deputy and closest colleague Timur Ivanov for corruption involving billions of roubles. The reactions to Ivanov’s arrest both inside and outside the military cast a dark shadow over the minister himself. Shoigu’s predecessor also lost his post as a result of a corruption scandal.

Changes were therefore to be expected.

However, the appointment of a civilian as Minister of Defense, especially in times of war, is not the norm in Russia, even though there have already been examples of this under Putin.

The new Russian defense minister

Who is the new man, who is Andrei Beloussov?

Andrej Beloussow, Russia’s new defense minister

Andrei Beloussov is a graduated economist and mathematician. He has been in the service of the president for a very long time.

As Director General of the Center for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-Term Forecasting and advisor to the first governments after Putin was elected president, he was one of the authors of the first Russian development program with which Vladimir Putin transformed the country in the 2000s. At the same time, he acted as an advisor to the first governments after Vladimir Putin took office in 2000.

Together with the current president, he worked in the Putin government from 2008 to 2012 and returned with him to the presidential apparatus in 2012, where he again worked in close proximity to the president as an economic advisor until 2020.

In 2020, the current head of government, Mikhail Mishustin, was appointed Prime Minister. Andrei Beloussov became his first deputy for economic development. Beloussov thus made a significant contribution to how Russia’s economy coped with the Western sanctions and how it was geared towards the necessities of war.

War is always, and above all, economics. It is important to use the available resources as economically and effectively as possible. This Russian way of understanding armaments is one of the major differences to the military-industrial complex in the West, where the aim is to sell weapons and equipment to the state at the highest possible price.

It will be the main task of the new defense minister to push for the necessary changes in the Ministry of Defense. Russia is preparing for a potentially very long war.

In his last appearances, President Putin repeatedly referred to the significance of faith, the importance of firm convictions and traditional cultural values in order to be successful as a country, as a nation. In addition to his undisputed professional expertise, the fact that Beloussov is a very religious and church-going person probably played a not insignificant role in his selection. He sometimes serves as an altar boy in one of the churches in the Vladimir region.

This point sounds a little strange, especially to German readers, but in the current phase of Russian development it has a significantly different significance than in Germany, for example, where the “C” in the names of parties and the appearance of their leading representatives has only the value of folklore. This behavior is significantly encouraged by the completely uncritical support of German politics by the two leading German Christian churches.

What does the West say about the new man?

After the Ivanov case, i.e. after the imprisonment of the previous deputy defense minister for corruption, the following soft facts about Andrei Beloussov are likely to have been anything but incidental.

He is considered “completely uncorrupt”. He is a “technocrat”, an ideologue of so-called “military Keynesianism”. This means that he supports promoting the development of the country’s economy by investing in the country’s own industries, including the military industry. Andrei Belousov is known in Russian business circles as a supporter and friend of domestic industry and is known for his patriotic views. He is absolutely honest and loyal to the President.

The information in the last paragraph does not come from Russian sources, these are assessments by the Financial Times.

Conclusion

Andrei Belousov’s appointment as Russia’s defense minister will very quickly have a practical impact. It can be expected that the efficiency of the Russian military industry will increase noticeably. It is therefore no triviality that Beloussov’s appointment was received extremely positively by the Russian military on the front line. The joy on the Russian side at this surprising personnel decision is likely to be offset by considerable unease in the West.

The new Russian government – one person catches the eye

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