US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is welcomed by the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Bridget Brink, at the Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi station, May 14, 2024 (Brendan Smialowski/AP)

EA on Times Radio: Why Did Putin Replace His Defense Minister? — A Long War and Russia’s Economy

Monday’s Coverage: Putin Replaces Defense Minister Amid Russia’s Wartime Economy

Map: Institute for the Study of War


At least 20 civilians, including 11 women and three children, have been injured in seven Russian airstrikes on Kharkiv city.

Governor Oleh Syniehubov posted, “During ground battles in the Kharkiv sector, the enemy does not stop his attempts to terrorize the civilian population of the regional center.”

One bomb hit a high-rise building, and another set at least 15 garages on fire. At least 20 residential and non-residential buildings, including a shopping center, an educational institution, and shops were damaged.


Two elderly civilians have been killed by Russia’s attacks on the border town of Vovchansk in the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine.

The victims were an 80-year-old woman and an 83-year-old man.

More than 7,500 civilians have been evacuated since last Friday from the area, but about 200 to 300 remain in Vovchansk.


Russia’s Investigative Committee confirmed the arrest of a second senior Defense Ministry official on Monday, a day after Vladimir Putin replaced Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu.

The chief of the Ministry’s Main Personnel Directorate, Lt. Gen. Yury Kuznetsov, is in custody pending investigation and trial.

Deputy Defense Mininster Timur Ivanov was detained last month, also on charges of bribery and corruption (see 0728 GMT).


Hosting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Kyiv, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has thanked the Biden Administration for “crucial” American aid.

But Zelenskiy emphasized that Ukraine needs two more air defense systems to protect its second city of Kharkiv, under sustained Russian missile and drone strikes.

Calling air defense systems “the biggest deficit for us”, Zelenskiy said, “Really we need today two Patriots for Kharkiv, for Kharkiv region because there the people are under attack. Civilians, warriors, everybody they are under Russian missiles.”


Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has posted for Remembrance Day:

In the darkest of times, when our people did not yet know when the war would end, they did not betray the best in everyone’s heart. They risked their lives to save those whom the Nazis sought to eliminate.


The independent Russian outlet Meduza adds detail about Vladimir Putin’s sudden replacement of Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu on Sunday.

Sources close to the Kremlin say “the decisive factor” was an internal battle between Shoygu and Sergey Chemezov, the head of Rostec, one of the main suppliers of the Russian army. Shoygu complained to Putin about delays or even failures in the delivery of weapons to the frontline.

“The message was this: we would have advanced much further, but the defense industry is letting us down,” said an official close to the Russian Government.

Chemezov — “a person from the inner circle, in direct contact with the President” — joined forces with the head of the Russian Guard, Viktor Zolotov, against Shoygu. The initiative led to the indictment of a Shoygu ally, Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov, for corruption.

While reinforcing the line that a priority on Russia’s economy led to the naming of Andrei Belousov as the new Defense Minister, Meduza puts a question mark over the narrative that he — or at least his family — is honest and beyond corruption.

The outlet details how Belousov’s son Pavel, 29, has made his fortune from government contracts.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Kyiv as Russia presses its offensive in the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine.

The US State Department said Blinken will meet Ukraine President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy and other senior officials “to discuss battlefield updates, the impact of new US security and economic assistance, long-term security and other commitments, and ongoing work to bolster Ukraine’s economic recovery”.

Blinken said upon arrival in Kyiv: “In the near term, the assistance is now on the way, some of it has already arrived and more of it will be arriving. And that’s going to make a real difference against the ongoing Russian aggression on the battlefield.”

The visit is the first by a top US official since $60.8 billion in military aid was finally agreed in late April. The 6 1/2-month delay, because of a blockade by Trumpists and hard-right Republicans, allowed Russia to seize the initiative in eastern Ukraine.

The Russians have advanced in the Donetsk region, seizing the town of Avdiivka and villages west of the city of Bakhmut. Last Friday, Moscow’s armored columns launched a cross-border attack in neighboring Kharkiv.

The offensive has seized about 100 square km (39 square miles) and is nearing the border town of Vovchansk from three sides. Only a few hundred residents of the pre-invasion population of 17,000 remain, with almost 6,000 people evacuated from the region in 72 hours.

The head of Ukraine’s Security Council, Oleksandr Lytvynenko, summarized, “There are a lot of Russians, quite a lot. About 50,000 were on the border. Now there are much more than 30,000 coming.”

Kharkiv Governor Oleh Syniehubov said Russia is attacking new areas with small groups to widen the frontline and stretch Ukrainian forces. Echoing Zelenskiy, he said, “The situation is difficult.”

But in his nightly video address to the nation, Zelenskiy assured, “Our results are improving. We are destroying the enemy’s infantry and armored vehicles.”