Putin moves to replace long-time defense chief Sergei Shoigu

On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the removal of long-time Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, and replacing him with former Deputy Prime Minster Andrei Belousov.

According to Reuters, Shoigu has been a long-time ally of the president and has held the position since 2012. The Kremlin said that Putin wants him to replace Nikolai Patrushev as the secretary of the country's Security Council and oversee the military-industrial complex.

Putin's replacement, Belousov, is a civilian with a background in economics. Kremlin spokesman told the Moscow Times that the move to put a civilian in charge of defense was "natural."

"The Defense Ministry must be absolutely open to innovation, to introduce advanced ideas, and to create conditions for economic competitiveness," he said, "that’s why the president chose the candidacy of Andrei Removich Belousov."

According to NBC, the move comes as the Russian Army has renewed its ground offensive into northeastern Ukraine. "Infantry fighting is already taking place," Kharkiv regional police head Volodymyr Tymoshko revealed.

Over 4,000 civilians have fled the area as the forces moved into the region, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the outlet that the number one priority for his forces is to halt the Russian offensive and continue its counter-offensive in the Kharkiv region.

"Disrupting the Russian offensive intentions is our No. 1 task now. Whether we succeed in that task depends on every soldier, every sergeant, every officer," he said.

Zelenskyy noted that the Russians are using a scorched earth method as they move through the Vovchansk area and "simply wiping it (Vovchansk) off the face of the earth." He described the method as, "they first scorch a specific area and then the infantry comes in, and they always advance in this way."

On Thursday, Zelenskyy revealed they were facing "a really difficult situation" on the eastern front. " He claimed, "With an increase in the supply of weapons, we will be able to stop them in the east. As of now, they seized the initiative there."

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