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Demoted Shoigu suffers fresh humiliation in China

Days after his removal from the defense minister post he held for over a decade, Sergei Shoigu faced a delayed entry into a Chinese government building because its security staff were not happy with his pass, it has been reported.

Shoigu had helped spearhead Vladimir Putin‘s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in the role he had since 2012 before his boss surprised many by replacing him on Sunday May 12 with Andrei Belousov, an economist with little military experience.

Shoigu in turn has been appointed secretary of Russia’s Security Council and while still a big job, it is seen by many as a demotion from the high-profile role he held as one of the faces of the war that Putin started.

But being in a delegation of officials accompanying Putin on a state visit to China where the Russian leader held talks with his ally Xi Jinping on Thursday was not enough for Shoigu to get automatic access to the seat of Chinese political power, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant.

Russian Security Council Secretary Sergei Shoigu

Russian Security Council Secretary Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 15, 2024. The former defense minister was denied entry into the Chinese parliament, according to a Russian media report.
Russian Security Council Secretary Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 15, 2024. The former defense minister was denied entry into the Chinese parliament, according to a Russian media report.
Vyacheslav Prokofyev/Getty Images

The newspaper’s special correspondent Andrei Kolesnikov said that the trip’s organizers were not satisfied with Shoigu’s pass granting entry to the building.

“They did not want to let Mr Shoigu into the House of the People’s Assembly at all,” Kolsenikov wrote. “The organizers were not satisfied with something.

“The Secretary of the Security Council had to wait more than one or two minutes before the issue was finally resolved in his favor,” the journalist wrote, adding that as he stood “at least 10 colleagues” were allowed in.

When Shoigu was eventually admitted, he participated in the talks sitting to the left of Putin, while foreign minister Sergei Lavrov sat on the president’s right, Kolesnikov said.

Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told Russian state media that this was the most important meeting of the trip, but Kolesnikov noted in his piece Shoigu “was not at the enlarged meeting at all. Does this mean something significant?”

Newsweek has contacted the Russian defense ministry for comment.

Following his inauguration for a fifth term as president, Putin’s move to appoint a new defense minister sparked speculation that he wanted to align the country’s economy more closely with the war effort.

Independent Russian news outlet The Bell said that Putin’s decision to replace Shoigu for Belousov was “highly symbolic” and showed that defense-related spending is the top priority. “The Kremlin is gambling on a war of attrition, and this sort of war is won just as much by economic managers as soldiers,” The Bell said.

Shoigu has taken over the role of former director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Nikolai Patrushev whom Putin has appointed as a Kremlin aide.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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