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Vladimir Putin 'preparing for WW3' as he sacks defence boss Shoigu in shock shake-up


Vladimir Putin’s sacking of his Defence Minister is proof the Kremlin is gearing up for World War 3 with Nato, a leading Russian dissident has told Express.co.uk

Russia’s political establishment was rocked to the core this weekend, after the Kremlin boss wielded the axe against some of his closest political allies.

One of the most prominent members of his cabinet to be shown the door was Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu.

The former Minister had come under intense scrutiny and criticism for his handling of the war, which has until now seen just incremental gains at the cost of thousands of Russian soldiers’ lives.

Putin has appointed Andrei Belousov as the new Minister of Defence in place of Shoigu.

Belousov, a former first Deputy Prime Minister, is a close confidant of the Kremlin tyrant, advising him on economics.

An opponent of free markets, he is known to favour nationalising the economy and imposing higher taxes on businesses in a throwback to Soviet times.

Ilya Ponomarev, a leading anti-Putin activist, told Express.co.uk the move clearly shows the Kremlin is preparing for a long drawn out war that most likely will “go beyond” Ukraine.

“I think his priorities changed, he explained. “He does not believe in military breakthroughs any longer.

“And a war of attrition needs a strong industrialist as the top manager. Military decisions will be made by Putin himself.”

The former Russian MP added: “It means they are planning to fight for a long time, and that’s most likely to go beyond Ukraine…..Baltic States, Poland… who knows.

“Just (appointing) Belousov means the continuation of the militarisation of the economy, long-term.”

The Russian government is spending billions of US dollars on funding its war in Ukraine. As of September 2022, researchers estimated military costs reached $40 billion (£32bn). Direct military spending may amount to almost $132 billion (£105bn) through 2024.

Over the long term, even with a stalemated war, Russia’s economy and the standard of living of its people are likely to decline, according to analysts at the Rand think-tank.

Putin’s purge also removed Nikolai Patrushev from his position as Secretary of the Security Council of Russia.

The former head of Russia’s FSB was one of Putin’s most trusted senior lieutenants and his removal raises questions about whether the Russian leader is making powerful political enemies that could join forces to remove the tyrant.

Mr Ponomarev doesn’t believe any Kremlin revolt is on the cards for now, as Putin was careful to balance out his purge.

“He kept balance with firing Patrushev, who just attacked Shoigu recently (Ivanov’s arrest), but promoted Patrushev-junior at the same time,” he said.

Dmitry Patrushev was the Minister of Agriculture but has now been promoted to deputy Prime Minister.

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