Vladimir Putin military purge exposes key flaw in Russia’s war machine | World | News

Vladimir Putin may have inadvertently offered his opponents a damning insight into the state of the Russian military.

The Russian leader inaugurated his fifth term since winning a majority at the ballot box in March with a purge of top-ranking officers and the removal of key ally Sergei Shoigu from the Ministry of Defence.

His removal came days after the arrest of his deputy, Timur Ivanov, for allegedly taking bribes “on a particularly large scale.

The Defence Ministry’s head of personnel directorate, Lt. Gen. Yuri Kuznetso followed after authorities seized more than 100 million rubles (£780,000) and gold coins from his residences.

The arrest of the pair exposed an unprecedented streak of corruption spanning years that experts noted effectively depleted the ministry’s budget and undermined Putin’s efforts to modernise the army.

Former Foreign Minister Andrey Kozyrev, who served under Boris Yeltsin, wrote on X: “The Kremlin spent the last 20 years trying to modernize its military.

“Much of that budget was stolen and spent on mega-yachts in Cyprus. But as a military advisor, you cannot report that to the President. So they reported lies to him instead.”

To salvage Russia‘s haemorrhaging defence coffers, Putin brought in economist Andrei Belousov as Shoigu’s successor – a move suggesting he’s planning to play a more direct role in the management of finances going forward.

Former British defence attaché to Moscow John Foreman noted that “Putin has tolerated Shoigu building his empire, taking money from the defence budget” but now needed someone who would bring in “more bang for the buck.”

Speaking to Business Insider, Mr Foreman added: “You don’t remove your defence minister and replace all your generals if everything is going well.”

Putin showed a reluctance to make changes to his top tier of advisors in the middle of the war in Ukraine – but financial issues likely forced him to intervene.

UCL honorary professor Mark Galeotti said: “Putin has been very disinclined to reshuffle the top tier of his security agencies in the middle of a war.

“If they’re bringing in Belousov with a mandate to get absolute control of the defence ministry’s finances, to cut down on waste and embezzlement, then now is the time to tackle the whole problem.”

Putin’s strong response also suggested he acknowledged rampant corruption could ultimately affect his chances of expanding military operations in Ukraine.

A former Russian foreign minister claimed in the early stages of the invasion that poor performance by the Russian Army was partially the result of extensive double-dealing.

And with the US and Germany now relaxing their stance on Ukraine‘s ability to use ally-provided long-range weaponry to strike Russian soil, paired with the arrival of new equipment from the US, Putin has been warned time to advance might be running out.

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