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Russian Vladimir Putin sidelined Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as the invasion of Ukraine enters its seventh month, according to a report released Monday by the British Defense Ministry.
Operational commanders are now reporting directly to the Kremlin on progress in Ukraine, with Shoigu taking a back seat.
“Russian officers and soldiers with direct experience of the war probably routinely ridicule Shoigu for his ineffective and out of touch leadership as Russian progress has stalled,” the UK wrote in its intelligence update.
“Shoigu has probably struggled for a long time to overcome his reputation for lacking substantial military experience, having spent much of his career in the construction industry and in the Ministry of Emergency Situations.”
Shoigu, a native of Russia’s Tuva region in southern Sibera, gained national popularity in the 1990s and 2000s as an emergency minister by personally visiting the sites of natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
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Putin chose him as defense minister in 2012, despite having no military background or combat experience.
“If you look at who was in ministerial roles in 1999 and are still around now, there are only two names: one is Shoigu, the other is Putin,” Dmitry Gorenburg, Ph.D., a previously told Fox. Russian military expert News.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Shoigu in May and called for “an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine,” according to the Pentagon.
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Putin ordered a sharp increase in troops from 137,000 to a total fighting force of 1,150,000 last week in an effort to replenish the losses after six months of war.
Russian forces have captured almost all of Luhansk and are trying to gain control of Donetsk, which are the two regions that make up eastern Donbas. In recent weeks, fighting has also joined in southern Ukraine, with more focus on Crimea, a peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014.
Fox News’ Bradford Betz contributed to this report, as did the Associated Press.