The Technocrat Who’s Taking Control of Putin’s War Effort

In more than two years of war against Ukraine, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has found that the technocrats he assembled to manage the Russian economy have turned out to be his most reliable foot soldiers.

The Russian leader has now tapped one of them, Andrei R. Belousov, who has no military experience, to become his next defense minister.

Mr. Belousov, 65, a fan of Rembrandt who is fond of quoting Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Carl Jung, has for years stood apart from the other technocrats, many of whom have provided excellent economic guidance, even as they privately have seen Mr. Putin’s provocative geopolitical moves as hazardous for Russia’s economic future.

Mr. Belousov, however, has been a true believer.

His rise shows how Mr. Putin is fully redirecting Russia’s economy toward the war effort and suggests that the Kremlin may grow even more deeply involved in mobilizing industry for the fight. Mr. Putin cast his new defense chief, who joined him on a trip to China in recent days, as a much-needed coordinator for a rapidly changing Russian military industrial complex that is critical to success in the war.

“His job is to open the Defense Ministry to innovation,” Mr. Putin told journalists on Friday, while visiting the Chinese city of Harbin.

The philosophy that Mr. Belousov has promoted for decades casts state intervention as the main driver of economic development, as opposed to private business investment, an outlook that makes him particularly relevant to the moment.

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