Home Russia Putin Ousts Patrushev, Promotes Shoigu: An Indian Perspective

Putin Ousts Patrushev, Promotes Shoigu: An Indian Perspective

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The statement from the Kremlin’s spokesman in Moscow was terse: “Nikolai Platonovich Patrushev has been relieved of his post as Secretary of the Security Council in connection with the transfer to another job – he continues to work and within the next few days we will inform you where Nikolai Platonovich will continue his activities.”

Nandan Unnikrishnan, head of the Russia Studies programme at the Observer Research Foundation, believes that President Putin, “has made some moves on a chessboard for political considerations and while Patrushev has been shifted out, he still has access to his advice.”

It may also be too early to rule him out.  As a member of Putin’s inner circle, Patrushev has his value and one must wait to see what his future role could be.

But there’s no doubt that Patrushev out of the Security Council means a key interlocuter for India in the Russian system is no longer there.  Going by various reports, Patrushev and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval enjoyed an excellent rapport, perhaps even dating back to the period until 2008 when the former took over as head of his country’s national security council.

“That chemistry will be missing in the man who has succeeded him, Sergei Shoigu, defence minister until two days ago,” says a former senior intelligence officer.

Or, he noted, it will take time for that chemistry to establish. As for institutional intelligence sharing, which is of long standing, it should not be affected.

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Unnikrishnan says there is another point to consider.

“Shoigu may not know Doval but has dealt with India as defence minister. He has no reason to disregard or be indifferent to the Indian connection.”

Then there’s Denis Manturov, currently deputy prime minister and minister of trade and industry, overall head of the military-industrial complex. He has dealt with India over many years.

The new defence minister Andrei Belousov may not know India but heads a ministry with a long institutional memory of dealing with India (since 1963).

Not to forget the man seen as heavily invested in the India relationship: Vladimir Putin himself.  As the saying goes ‘Long may he rule’.