Vladimir Putin Abandons His Defense Minister

A video of Vladimir Putin appearing to give his defense minister Sergei Shoigu the cold shoulder went viral in Russia. This perceived insult against Shoigu represented Russian dissatisfaction with the military’s performance in Ukraine.

A report shows that medals were presented to troops wounded in Russia’s full-scale assault on Ukraine at Moscow’s Vishnevsky Military Hospital.

They entered the hospital in full view of the Kremlin pool cameras, and as Shoigu stood on one side of the sitting troops, the president walked around shaking hands with every one of the servicemen.

Putin walked among the injured soldiers, who were all wearing bandages. One soldier rose to meet Putin, while another could barely raise his hand.

According to the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency, Putin referred to each man in the hospital as a “hero,” a designation that he said applied without exception to everyone involved in the special military operation.

The video shows that Putin then walked back to where Shoigu was standing. Reports have suggested that Putin saw Shoigu and purposely turned his back to him as he tried to speak. It is unclear whether the two have fallen out, but Russian military journalists, among others, have been very critical of Shoigu’s handling of the war.

On Friday, it was reported that African leaders might offer some measures in their preliminary attempts to mediate the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, as suggested in a draft framework agreement.

According to Reuters, the steps might include a military withdrawal by Russia, the easing of sanctions, the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Belarus, and the suspension of an international arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In America, however, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin urged Ukraine’s partners to “dig deep” and increase their supply of weapons to assist Kyiv in countering Russia’s aggression. Austin emphasized the need to provide Kyiv with both immediate and long-term aid.