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Russia’s Incoming Defense Minister Pledges Military Overhaul

Andrei Belousov.

Russia’s incoming Defense Minister Andrei Belousov said Tuesday that he will work toward increasing the military’s effectiveness so that Moscow can achieve “victory” in its war against Ukraine.

"The main priority, of course, remains achieving victory and ensuring that the military-political goals of the special military operation... are achieved,” Belousov said in an address to Russia’s upper-house Federation Council.

“Everything in the country that’s effective and advanced, everything must work to achieve victory, to ensure the armed forces can fulfill their duties,” he added. “Every ruble of budget money, which is ultimately paid by our citizens, [must] bring maximum effect.”

President Vladimir Putin on Sunday nominated Belousov, an economist who previously served as first deputy prime minister, to replace Sergei Shoigu as defense minister, a move that indicates the Kremlin plans to double down on its more than two-year-long war against Ukraine.

Putin is expected to formally appoint Belousov, along with four other ministers and several security chiefs, following consultations with the Federation Council on Tuesday.

In his address to the upper house of parliament, Belousov underscored that Russia’s armed forces should sustain “minimal human losses” as it pushes for victory on the battlefield in Ukraine.

Belousov added that a “huge number of questions” surround the issue of weapons deliveries to Russian troops deployed in Ukraine, and said its “implementation requires daily and even hourly” monitoring.

He also promised lawmakers that, in his new role, he would live by the “ironclad principle that you can make mistakes, but you can’t lie,” an apparent acknowledgment of ongoing inefficiencies and deceit within the Russian military.

The Kremlin has indicated that Belousov, who like his predecessor has no military background, will not be involved in making operational decisions over the campaign in Ukraine, which will remain within the purview of the army's General Staff.

AFP contributed reporting.

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