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Putin signs decree naming new Russian government, including replacement of defense minister

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a decree appointing a new government, including replacement of the defense minister with a former deputy prime minister who is an economics expert with no military background.

When Putin was inaugurated for a new six-year term on May 7, the government submitted its resignation in line with Russian law. Putin reappointed Mikhail Mishustin as prime minister three days later, which was quickly approved by the lower house of parliament.

On Sunday, he signed a decree moving Sergei Shoigu from his post as defense minister to head of the national security council. Putin also nominated deputy prime minister Andrei Belousov to take Shoigu’s place.

Putin also proposed names for some Cabinet members to return to their posts and Mishustin submitted names for several new ministers, all of which were approved by the parliament.

Shoigu has been widely seen as a key figure in Putin’s decision to send Russian troops into Ukraine. Russia had expected the operation to quickly overwhelm Ukraine’s much smaller and less-equipped army and for Ukrainians to broadly welcome Russian troops.

Instead, the conflict galvanized Ukraine to mount an intense defense, dealing the Russian army humiliating blows, including the retreat from an attempt to take the capital, Kyiv, and a counteroffensive that drove Moscow’s forces out of the Kharkiv region.

Shoigu also was shadowed by the arrest last month of deputy defense minister Timur Ivanov on charges of accepting huge bribes.

The decree by Putin largely retains the previous Cabinet, but names new energy, sports, transport, industry and agriculture ministers.

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