Ukraine conflict: Russian Defence Minister side-lined by Vladimir Putin over problems faced by Russia

The Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is being side-lined by Vladimir Putin over problems faced by Russia in the conflict in Ukraine according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD)

The reports come following reports in the Russian media that commanders are now briefing Putin directly amid concerns of the slow advance of Russian forces.

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The MoD intelligence report states: “Recent independent Russian media reports have claimed that due to the problems Russia is facing in its war against Ukraine, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is now being side-lined within the Russian leadership, with operational commanders briefing President Putin directly on the course of the war.

The Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is being side-lined by Vladimir Putin over problems faced by Russia in the conflict in Ukraine according to the Ministry of Defence
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"Russian officers and soldiers with first-hand experience of the war probably routinely ridicule Shoigu for his ineffectual and out-of-touch leadership as Russian progress has stalled.

"Shoigu has likely long struggled to overcome his reputation as lacking substantive military experience, as he spent most of his career in the construction sector and the Ministry of Emergency Situations.”

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Over the weekend, it was announced that the UK is sending underwater drones to Ukraine to clear its coastline of mines in an effort to free up food supplies trapped during the Russian invasion.

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Ukrainian personnel will receive training in Britain on how to use the six autonomous vehicles to help the flow of grain to the rest of the world resume after exports from the country dubbed “Europe’s breadbasket” were severely disrupted, putting pressure on global prices.

The United Nations nuclear watchdog injected a ray of hope into the stand-off over Ukraine’s beleaguered Zaporizhzhia atomic power plant on Monday, announcing that its mission of top experts “is now on its way” to the facility, which has seen relentless shelling as a focal point in the war with Russia.

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International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Rafael Grossi has for months sought access to the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s biggest, which has been occupied by Russian forces and run by Ukrainian workers since the early days of the six-month-old war.

His announcement came hours after Russia and Ukraine traded claims of rocket and artillery strikes at or near the plant on Sunday, intensifying fears that the fighting could cause a massive radiation leak. Under the barrage of shelling last week, the facility was already temporarily knocked offline.

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“The day has come,” Mr Grossi wrote on Twitter, adding that the Vienna-based IAEA’s “Support and Assistance Mission … is now on its way.”

“We must protect the safety and security of #Ukraine’s and Europe’s biggest nuclear facility,” he wrote. “Proud to lead this mission which will be in #ZNPP later this week.”

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Mr Grossi, who did not provide a more precise timeline or give further details, posted a picture of himself with 13 other experts.

Ukraine has alleged that Russia is essentially holding the plant hostage, storing weapons there and launching attacks from around it, while Moscow accuses Ukraine of recklessly firing on the facility. The Zaporizhzhia plant has six reactors.

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Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that Ukrainian forces had attacked the plant twice over the past day, and that shells fell near buildings storing reactor fuel and radioactive waste.