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CORRESPONDENT

Putin's 'Dick Cheney' Starts to Mobilize Russia to War Economy

John Gizzi By Wednesday, 15 May 2024 10:41 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Days after Vladimir Putin made the surprise appointment of economist Andrei Belousov as Russia's defense minister, the president's vision of transforming their nation's economy into a war economy has begun.

Soon after his inauguration for a sixth term, Putin replaced long-serving Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu with Belousov — a Keynesian economist who believes in a strong state hand in the economy, a former deputy premier and economics minister, and someone who never served a day in the military.

But sources who know the Kremlin and who spoke to Newsmax agree that Belousov's chief quality is loyalty to Putin and that he will execute his agenda without hesitation.

"Putin held a calculated pause after the 'elections' and reshuffled people around him with pragmatism," Pavel Khodorkovsky, president of the Khodorkovsky Foundation, told Newsmax. "Those who got too comfortable and ineffective — Shoigu — or ambitious—[Nikolai] Patrushev [just replaced as secretary of the Security Council] — were moved to the side. The choice of Belousov, an economist who believes in the heavy hand of the state, reflects how Putin plans to win in Ukraine: by cranking up the gears of war and outproducing the West."

In many ways, Putin's selection of Belousov is similar to President George H.W. Bush's choosing then-Rep. Dick Cheney, R.-Wyo., as secretary of defense in 1989. Cheney, the first civilian chief of the armed forces who never served in the military, was House Republican whip and had been chief of staff to the former president. 

He was the consummate Washington insider; he knew where the proverbial "bodies were buried" in the Pentagon; and he was widely praised over his role in Operation Desert Storm, in which the U.S. led an international alliance to free Kuwait from Iraq.

Like Cheney at the Pentagon, Belousov has already begun to put his imprint — or Putin's — on the Defense Ministry. Since he assumed its helm, Lt. Gen. Yuri Kuznetsov was removed as head of personnel at the Defense Ministry and is now under investigation for "large-scale" bribery.

In April, before Belousov was appointed, Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov was removed under the same "large-scale" bribery charge as Kuznetsov. Ivanov was considered one of Shoigu's closest associates.

The shakeup in Russia's military establishment comes just as Russian forces launched a fresh offensive to recapture Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, where Ukrainian forces repelled the Russian invaders in 2022 after a major battle. 

David Satter, onetime Financial Times bureau chief in Moscow and author of three critically acclaimed books on Russia, said that Putin "will need someone who can overcome inherent Russian inefficiencies. Russia relies on mass in people and in resources. But it is running out of both. Belousov is undoubtedly expected to introduce greater economies in preparation for a long war."

Chapman University professor Luke Nichter, author of the book "The Year That Broke Politics," likened Putin's appointment of Belousov to President Lyndon Johnson's naming of longtime Washington insider Clark Clifford as secretary of defense in early 1968.

"Clifford had known LBJ since the Truman era and he was supposed to be an enforcer," Nichter said. "It turned out Clifford was more independent than LBJ bargained for when he turned against the Vietnam War shortly after his appointment.

"Like LBJ, it seems Putin wants a loyalist who not only breaks from the past but who will shape future defense policy in a way more responsive to Putin's demands."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


John-Gizzi
Days after Vladimir Putin made the surprise appointment of economist Andrei Belousov as Russia's defense minister, the president's vision of transforming their nation's economy into a war economy has begun.
putin, belousov, shoigu, ukraine, war, cheney, bush
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2024-41-15
Wednesday, 15 May 2024 10:41 PM
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