Home News Russia detains another defense official, new sign of Putin’s shake-up

Russia detains another defense official, new sign of Putin’s shake-up

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Russia has jailed a senior defense official, the fourth in a month, state media reported Thursday, expanding President Vladimir V. Putin’s biggest shakeup of his military leadership since the invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago.

A Moscow military court on Wednesday sentenced Lieutenant General Vadim Shamarin to two months in prison for alleged “large-scale” bribery, the state news agency reported. He faces 15 years in prison. General Shamarin is deputy chief of staff of the General Staff, the main command body of the Russian army, and oversees its communications directorate.

A photo of General Shamarin released by the Russian Ministry of Defense.Credit…Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Associated Press

Gen. Shamarin’s detention is the latest in a series of high-profile arrests earlier this month as Putin appointed a new defense minister, Andrei R. Belousov.

Timur Ivanov, Deputy Minister of Defenseand Lieutenant General Yuri Kuznetsov, head of the ministry’s personnel department, has been detained in recent weeks on the same bribery charges. Earlier this week, state media reported that Major General Ivan Popov, the former commander of Russia’s 58th Combined Army, Detained for fraud accusation.

The Kremlin has tight control over the judicial system, and overall the corruption arrests mark Putin’s most aggressive efforts to reform his military leadership since the disastrous start of his invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

“The fight against corruption is a deliberate effort,” Dmitri S. Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, told reporters on Thursday, denying suggestions that a purge was underway. “Of course, there is no talk of any kind of campaign.”

During the first two years of the war, despite widespread reports of corruption, mismanagement, and incompetence among his generals, Putin rarely publicly announced changes in the military leadership, let alone arrested anyone.

With the military at a disadvantage, Putin values ​​loyalty and seeks to avoid potentially destabilizing personnel changes, analysts say.

But now, Russian forces are on the offensive on most fronts, while Ukraine faces shortages of weapons and personnel. Putin, who was re-elected in March and began a fifth term in May, appears confident enough in his power and military superiority to crack down on military leaders who have fallen out of favor.

One of the Kremlin’s goals appears to be to show the Russian public that it is taking seriously the problem of corruption in the military, a topic that has been widely discussed by popular Russian bloggers who support the war since the invasion began.

The effort was highlighted by Russian News Agency, one of Russia’s main state news agencies, reported On Thursday, General Shamarin’s wife bought a $200,000 Mercedes SUV in November 2022, even though his existing financial report shows that his family’s annual income does not exceed $34,000 at the current exchange rate.

Oleg Matsnev also contributed to this article.

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