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Optimistic About the War in Ukraine, Putin Unleashes a Purge at Home

·1 min

Periodic concerns over incompetence and corruption at the top of the military in Russia have plagued President Vladimir V. Putin’s war efforts since the onset of his invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. When his forces encountered difficulties around Kyiv and were defeated near Kharkiv, expectations for change increased. A mercenary leader, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, criticized the Russian force and marched his troops toward Moscow. However, Putin refrained from making major public moves that would validate the criticism, instead opting to shuffle battlefield commanders and make lower-level changes. Now that the battlefield crises have subsided and Prigozhin is deceased, Putin has made significant changes in the Defense Ministry, including replacing the defense minister and allowing corruption arrests among top ministry officials. These actions represent the largest overhaul at the Russian Defense Ministry since the invasion began and demonstrate Putin’s preference for making changes at a less obvious time that he selects.