Factbox-Who is Andrei Belousov, Putin's choice as defence minister?

Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov attends a meeting of members of Security Council and the government and the heads of law enforcement agencies, outside Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed a surprise new defence minister, nominating civilian Andrei Belousov, a former deputy prime minister who specialises in economics, for the job more than two years into the Ukraine war, the Kremlin said.

Below are some facts about Andrei Removich Belousov:

* Belousov, 65, graduated from the Faculty of Economics of the Moscow State University in 1981 with distinction. He defended his dissertation on "An imitative approach to modeling interrelated processes for the formation and use of working capital."

* In 2000, Belousov was appointed a non-staff adviser to the Russian prime minister and joined the economy ministry as deputy minister six years later. From 2008-2012, he was director of the department for economics and finance in the government apparatus, the same years Putin served as prime minister.

* In 2012, he was made economics minister. From 2013 until 2020, Belousov served as adviser to the Russian president. From 2020, he worked as first deputy prime minister. When Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin got COVID in 2020, Belousov briefly took on the prime minister's duties while Mishustin got better.

* In 2017, Russian media outlet RBC said Belousov was one of the officials who convinced Putin that the digital economy and blockchain were crucial to the future.

* "I can say that what a country with sovereignty should definitely have is the possession of its own meanings. Who are we, where are we from, where are we going? ... We have no other option for our country but to acquire or reproduce this identity," Belousov told RBC in an interview in 2023.

* According to RBC, he practised sambo and karate in his youth and did not serve in the armed forces. He is thought to be close to Putin.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Chris Reese)