Russia's defence minister Sergei Shoigu 'is side-lined by Putin

Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu ‘is side-lined by Putin – with commanders briefing Vladimir directly – and is routinely ridiculed by his own soldiers’, British military reveals

  • Sergei Shoigu is ‘ineffectual and out-of-touch’, Russian soldiers believe
  • He is seen as lacking serious military experience and is criticised by his troops
  • British MoD said the veteran politician is now being cast aside by Putin 

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu is being ‘side-lined’ by Vladimir Putin and is constantly mocked by his own soldiers, the British ministry of defence has revealed.

In its daily briefing, the MoD said the veteran politician who has held the defence post for 10 years is no longer the confidant and ally he previously was to the leader.

Russia’s failures in Ukraine after sustaining huge losses to personnel and equipment without making major inroads into the country have led to his ousting from Putin’s inner circle.

The head of the Russian military is no longer briefing Putin directly, with the Russian leader instead being updated by operational commanders, the report said. 

The MoD said today: ‘Recent independent Russian media reports have claimed that due to the problems Russia is facing in its war against Ukraine, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is now being side-lined within the Russian leadership, with operational commanders briefing President Putin directly on the course of the war.

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu is being ‘side-lined’ by Vladimir Putin and is constantly mocked by his own soldiers, the British ministry of defence has revealed

The MoD said the veteran politician who has held the defence post for 10 years is no longer the confidant and ally he previously was to the leader

‘Russian officers and soldiers with first-hand experience of the war probably routinely ridicule Shoigu for his ineffectual and out-of-touch leadership as Russian progress has stalled.

‘Shoigu has likely long struggled to overcome his reputation as lacking substantive military experience, as he spent most of his career in the construction sector and the Ministry of Emergency Situations.’

Under Shoigu’s leadership, Ukraine claims a staggering 47,000 Russian troops have been killed in the war. 

Nearly 2,000 tanks, 4,000 armoured personnel carriers, 234 planes and 1,000 artillery units have also been destroyed.

Shoigu, whose mother is Ukrainian-born, worked in construction before becoming a minor functionary in his regional Communist branch.

He was then appointed deputy chairman of the State Architecture and Construction Committee of the Russian Federation and later became minister of emergency situations in 1991, earning him the honorary title of general.

Russia has sustained huge losses in Ukraine to personnel and equipment that have led to Putin sidelining Shoigu 

He became defence minister in 2012 and along with Sergei Lavrov, has long been considered a trusted Putin lapdog.

It comes as a team from the UN nuclear watchdog headed on Monday to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the agency’s chief said, as Russia and Ukraine traded accusations of shelling in its vicinity, fuelling fears of a radiation disaster.

Captured by Russian troops in March but run by Ukrainian staff, Zaporizhzhia has been a hotspot in a conflict that has settled into a war of attrition fought mainly in Ukraine’s east and south six months after Russia launched its invasion.

‘We must protect the safety and security of Ukraine’s and Europe’s biggest nuclear facility,’ Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in a post on Twitter.

An IAEA team he was leading will reach the plant on the Dnipro river near front lines in southern Ukraine later this week, Grossi said, without specifying the day of their expected arrival.

Shoigu became defence minister in 2012 and along with Sergei Lavrov, has long been considered a trusted Putin lapdog

The IAEA tweeted separately that the mission would assess physical damage, evaluate the conditions in which staff are working at the plant and ‘determine functionality of safety & security systems’. It would also ‘perform urgent safeguards activities’, a reference to keeping track of nuclear material.

The United Nations and Ukraine have called for a withdrawal of military equipment and personnel from the nuclear complex, Europe’s largest, to ensure it is not a target.

The two sides have for days exchanged accusations of courting disaster with their attacks.

With fears mounting of a nuclear accident in a country still haunted by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, Zaporizhzhia authorities are handing out iodine tablets and teaching residents how to use them in case of a radiation leak.

Russian forces fired at Enerhodar, the city where the plant is located, the chief of staff of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, said late on Sunday on his Telegram channel alongside a video of firefighters dousing burning cars.

‘They provoke and try to blackmail the world,’ Andriy Yermak said.

Ukraine’s military earlier reported shelling of nine more towns on the opposite side of the Dnipro river.

Captured and destroyed Russian armoured vehicles are displayed by Ukraine in the streets of Kyiv

Russia’s defence ministry reported more Ukrainian shelling at the plant over the weekend. Nine shells fired by the Ukrainian artillery landed in the plant’s grounds, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.

‘At present, full-time technical personnel are monitoring the technical condition of the nuclear plant and ensuring its operation. The radiation situation in the area of the nuclear power plant remains normal,’ he said in a statement.

The Russian state news agency cited authorities as saying they had downed a Ukrainian drone which planned to attack the nuclear-waste storage facility at the plant.

Two of the plant’s reactors were cut off from the electrical grid last week due to shelling.

Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom said it had no new information about attacks on the plant and Reuters could not verify the accounts.

The U.S. State Department said on Sunday that Russia did not want to acknowledge the grave radiological risk at the plant and had blocked a draft agreement on nuclear non-proliferation because it mentioned such risk.

In the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, Russian forces shelled military and civilian infrastructure near Bakhmut, Shumy, Yakovlivka, Zaytsevo, and Kodema, Ukraine’s military said early on Monday.

Russian strikes killed eight civilians in Donetsk province on Sunday, its governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said.

Russia denies targeting civilians.

Zelensky, in a video address late on Sunday, vowed ‘the occupiers will feel their consequences – in the further actions of our defenders’.

‘No terrorist will be left without an answer for attacks on our cities. Zaporizhzhia, Orykhiv, Kharkiv, Donbas – they will receive an answer for all of them,’ he added.

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