Why was an economist appointed to the position of Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation?

Russian President Vladimir Putin has nominated Andrey Belousov, the former first deputy prime minister for economic affairs, as the head of the Russian Defense Ministry. Who is Andrey Belousov? What are the tasks assigned to Belousov, and what is the purpose of appointing an economist to the military field? Azon Global studied the relationship between experts and the Western press around this issue.

On May 12, Russian President Vladimir Putin nominated Andrei Belousov, the former First Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, as the head of the Russian Defense Ministry. Former Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who headed the Russian army for almost 12 years, was appointed secretary of the country's Security Council. What is the significance of this decision for Russia, which is preparing to fight for many more years? What does it mean for the economist to establish control over the defense sector, what tasks are assigned to him? First about the situation on the war front.

The situation in Ukraine

The situation in Ukraine is now more tense than ever since the beginning of the war. On May 10, Russia opened a new war front: its troops crossed the border into Kharkiv region and began to move towards its center. The Russian military has been actively advancing in Kharkiv region for several days. During the four-day offensive, the Russian army managed to capture about a dozen small villages near the state border. The troops advanced to the territory of Ukraine approximately 5-6 km deep and 30 km wide. In particular, the settlements of Borisovka, Ogurtsovo, Pletenevka, Pilnaya, Strelechya and Bugrovatka were occupied. On Monday, Russian army units captured Gatishche, Krasnoe, Morokhovets and Oleynikovo.

The Ukrainian armed forces are trying to restrain the enemy and not to lose the heights near the village of Liptsa, as well as to prevent the capture of Volchansk and its surroundings.

Due to the complicated situation on the war fronts, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyi , canceled his planned trip to Spain and Portugal on Friday.

Anthony Blinken, the head of the US foreign policy court, who made a surprise visit to the country, called the situation in Ukraine "precarious" and called the large-scale conscription a "difficult but necessary decision."

"Ukraine is losing to Russia in terms of weapons and personnel, and Russia is using anti-aircraft bombs with devastating results," says the BBC report. It is noted that the Russian military crossed the border without any obstacles and is moving towards the city of Volchansk, which was liberated by Ukrainian troops two years ago.

Who is Andrey Belousov?

Andrey Belousov was born in 1959 (65 years old), graduated from Moscow State University in 1981 with a degree in "economist-cybernetics". In 2000-2006, Belousov headed the Center for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-Term Forecasting.

Belousov's career in the Russian government began in 2006. In 2006-2008, he was Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Deputy Minister of Economic Development. From 2008 to 2012, he was the director of the Department of Economy and Finance of the Russian government.

Belousov was called "the man of the German Gref team." During the 2008 crisis, Belousov personally prepared anti-crisis documents for then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

In 2012-2013, Belousov headed the Ministry of Economic Development. From 2013 to 2020, he was an assistant to the President of Russia on economic issues. From January 2020 to the beginning of May 2024, he worked as the first deputy chairman of the RF government for economic issues.

"In general, he is very conservative and loyal to the state, but he has left-wing economic views - Soviet thinking. His views are Soviet. This does not mean that he is a supporter of a planned economy, but he is a supporter of control and regulation by the state. Can print a lot of money. There is no need to conduct such a strict monetary policy, we need to regulate more," said Mikhail Kasyanov, the former prime minister of Russia (2000-2004), to the BBC.

Andrey Belousov favors active government intervention in the economy through regulation or investment. He is an advocate for the government to invest more in the economy rather than creating a reserve fund.

Why an economist?

Officially explaining the appointment of Belousov, the press secretary of the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, mentioned two main reasons for this decision. First, "the economy of the security bloc should be integrated into the economy of the country." In particular, he drew attention to the increasing share of funds spent on this "block": "We are gradually approaching the situation of the middle of the 1980s, due to the power of certain reasons around us, the power of certain geopolitical conditions, when the share of power block costs in the economy [GDP ] was 7.4 percent."

In fact, military spending has already exceeded this limit. In the 2024 budget, a total of more than 13 trillion rubles have been allocated for the items of "national defense" and "national security" - this is about 40% of all federal budget expenditures and about 7.6% of GDP. At the same time, Peskov also underestimated the former alliance's military spending. In the 1980s, the size of the Soviet military-industrial complex, according to the calculations of the US Central Intelligence Agency, was 15 to 18 percent. Currently, military spending would need to at least double to approach this level.

Another reason for Belousov's move to the position of head of the Ministry of Defense is that, according to Peskov's statement, the military sector needs to introduce innovations and "advanced ideas", and Belousov has such experience. In particular, according to Peskov, Belousov "managed the Ministry of Economic Development very successfully."

Peskov did not specify what kind of successes he meant. In addition, Belousov headed the Ministry of Economic Development for a very short time - from May 2012 to June 2013.

According to Meduza , one of the most significant innovations that it was able to implement during this period was the road maps for improving the investment environment developed together with representatives of medium-sized businesses. These works were carried out by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, which was established in 2011 at the initiative of Belousov.

The agency has prepared proposals for reforms that should make it easier to do business in Russia, such as reducing the number of inspections and the time it takes to obtain licenses and permits. As a result, Russia rose from 120th place in 2012 to 28th place at the end of 2019 in the "Doing Business" rating of the World Bank.

Against the background of recent cases of corruption in the higher structures of the Ministry of Defense of the country, the appointment of Belousov can be said to be the result of lack of trust in military officials. Sources who know Belousov closely say that he is prone to bribery.

What tasks are being loaded?

The candidate for the position of the Minister of Defense Andrey Belousov, at the plenary session of the Federation Council yesterday, partially touched on the priorities of the Ministry's activities, the tasks that the President of Russia assigns to him, and what is expected of him.

According to Belousov, one of the most important tasks is to supply the groups of Russian troops in the special operation zone with weapons. We are talking about the delivery of the most modern equipment, in particular, artillery ammunition, missiles, personal protective equipment, special communication equipment, drones and electronic warfare equipment. Belousov added that the creation of new and different weapons requires precise and synchronized planning. According to him, all advanced developments and effective approaches should work to achieve victory and ensure the solution of the tasks of the Russian army.

"In the conditions of a special military operation, it is undoubtedly necessary to achieve victory, to ensure the achievement of the military-political goals of the Northern Military District, and at the same time, I would like to emphasize: to do this with minimal human losses, " Belousov said.

The candidate for the ministry added that it is necessary to develop new methods of combat operations in order to be superior to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He noted that the enemy learns quickly and the situation is changing every week with the use of more modern technologies.

Belousov also said that another priority task as the head of the Ministry of Defense should be the provision of personnel to the Armed Forces. At the same time, he emphasized that he was not talking about mobilization.

Belousov pointed out timely payment of servicemen and housing as another important issue.

"There are problems with the availability of medical services provided by civilian facilities for military personnel," he added.

In addition, the candidate for the post of minister emphasized the need to improve the efficiency of the execution of state defense orders in order to fully provide the combat personnel of the Russian army with all types of allowances.

"Of course, a step- by -step, gradual transition to the normative principle of this work is required. The Ministry of Defense has been involved since 2018, and I once had a role in starting this process," said Belousov.

According to him, it is necessary to strengthen price control in this area.

In addition, Belousov touched on the topic of military education and noted that certain problems have accumulated here. He noted that former Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has done a lot in this area, but it is necessary to keep it in constant focus and constantly develop it, especially taking into account the experience of special operations.

The candidate for the post of minister added that Vladimir Putin has set the task of ensuring the full integration of the economy of the Armed Forces into the country's economy, which implies increasing the efficiency of military spending.

" I would like to emphasize that optimization does not mean extensive reductions . It means, first of all, increasing efficiency, so that in the end every ruble of the budget paid by our citizens has the highest effect. This is both supply and production, as well as new military equipment and weapons. -weapons, and personnel training," he explained.

The Russian president also called on the Ministry of Defense to be open to innovation as much as possible. According to Belousov, this applies not only to modern technologies, but also to personnel training, as well as new forms and methods of management.

The candidate for the ministry called the trust expressed by the head of the state huge and promised that he would not spare his health in this position and, if necessary, his life in solving the tasks assigned to him. He added that he always adheres to the iron-and-concrete principle: "You can make mistakes, but you can't lie."

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