Sergei Shoigu: Russia’s political survivor battered by Ukraine setbacks

Sergei Shoigu, who is being replaced as Russia's defence minister, spearheaded Moscow's offensive in Ukraine and has been the country's longest-serving minister, as well as being one of Vladimir Putin's few close friends.

However, his handling of the assault against Ukraine was criticised by many in Russia and his reputation was further hit by recent corruption accusations against one of his deputies.

In 2023, late Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin began a very public feud against the higher echelons of the Russian military over the conduct of the conflict.

Prigozhin, who later led a short-lived mutiny and died in a mysterious plane accident, accused Shoigu in particular of being a "dirtbag" and "elderly clown" in furious audio messages that went viral in Russia.

Read morePutin's defence chief Shoigu survived Wagner’s challenge – but for how long?

Although Russia's fortunes have changed on the battlefield in recent months, with a string of recent advances, Shoigu's reputation has failed to recover.

Under pressure

His presence at the centre of power in Moscow predates that of Putin himself.


Read more on FRANCE 24 English

Read also:
Putin's defence chief Shoigu survived Wagner’s challenge – but for how long?
Putin set to replace Shoigu as Russia's defence minister
Putin says Russia's nuclear forces are 'always' on alert in Victory Day speech