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New Russian Government Arrangement Seen As Stabilizing Country for the Long Haul

The surprising decision made by President Vladimir Putin to relieve Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu of his duties, to appoint him as Secretary of the Russian Security Council, and to replace him in his defense post with a civilian, Andrei Belousov, previously in charge of economic development policy, has caught the attention of the mass media. Most of the former government ministers remain in their posts, or have been promoted to fill new posts in the new government.

But even the New York Times seems to recognize that the appointment of economist Belousov means that Russia is preparing for a long war, if need be. Spending on defense is now reaching 6-7%, which was the level during the last period of the Soviet Union—a fact which may be causing some concern. The role of Belousov will be to better coordinate and make more effective the relationship between civilian industry and military industrial needs. There is also a question of dealing with innovation: as Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed out, the side that innovates most successfully wins.

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