Russian President Vladimir V. Putin fired his defense minister Tuesday following a corruption investigation involving ministry land near Moscow. It was a rare move for Putin to move against a confidant despite the mounting charges against Anatoly E. Serdyukov.
Putin commended Serdyukov for his work even though the defense minister had few supporters inside the military as he has worked to slash the back log of generals at the top of the Russian military's ranks.
Putin said Serdyukov's removal was required to allow police to continue their investigation. Police could not do their work if Serdyukov remained in his position.
Serdyukov has served a vital role in the export of Russian military technology to nations such as India and China. In October, he announced a partnership with India for the Indian military to start production of the Sukhoi's T-50 stealth fighter. Russia is currently testing the stealth fighter that Serdyukov has said will perform better than the U.S. F-22.
Russia's defense minister also helped ensure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime continued to receive weapons from Russia throughout their ongoing fight with Syrian rebels. However, a decision with that level of international attention was surely made by Putin.
Putin has announced he will replace Serdyukov with another close ally, Sergei Shoigu.