Proposed Russian defense minister outlines his priorities — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union

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Andrey Belousov highlighted the need to reduce red tape and improve the welfare of military personnel

Russia has a lot of work to do when it comes to improving the welfare of its military personnel fighting in the Ukraine conflict, proposed Defense Minister Andrey Belousov has said.

On Sunday, Russia’s upper chamber of parliament, the Federation Council, announced that President Vladimir Putin had proposed replacing Sergey Shoigu as defense minister with acting First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov, a trained economist. Shoigu, who has held the post since 2012, has been appointed secretary of the Russian Security Council.

Commenting on the cabinet reshuffle, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested that Belousov could tackle some of the military’s financial issues.

During his confirmation hearing before the Federation Council on Monday, Belousov pointed out that servicemen fighting in the Ukraine campaign enjoy an adequate level of pay. “Today, the bar has been raised to at least 200,000 rubles ($2,200). In principle, people earn much more there. However, this is not just about cash payments and allowances. We still have work to do.”

This includes designated allowances for the purchase of residential property, payouts to civilian personnel employed in the military, and the provision of medical services, he said.

Belousov expressed outrage that veterans of the Ukraine conflict who come home on vacation “are being kicked out of civilian medical facilities and sent to hospitals, which are often overcrowded.”

Another issue is the red tape involved when military personnel seek to access their benefits, the nominee minister continued, adding that, ideally, this should be resolved with the help of electronic systems.

As the hearing wrapped up, the Federation Council’s press service said, as quoted by TASS, that the chamber would not make a public assessment of Belousov’s candidacy and that a letter on the matter would be sent to Putin. The deliberations on the nomination are expected to continue on Tuesday.

However, Valentina Matvienko, the head of the Federation Council, called the president’s pick for defense minister “a very fortunate choice.” She noted Russian senators are well acquainted with Belousov’s work and have interacted with him on numerous occasions.

Matvienko recalled that Russia’s defense spending had more than doubled in the midst of the Ukraine conflict. “Everything that the Defense Ministry orders… must be in line with the capabilities of the economy… The defense minister must be in constant contact with other ministries to organize this process efficiently,” she said, adding that Belousov has a lot of experience in this area.

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