Girding Russia for war, Putin gives extra duties to two top officials

By Guy Faulconbridge

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday gave extra duties to two key government officials who oversee the defence industry and energy sectors, as the Kremlin chief girds the world's second-largest oil exporter for a longer war in Ukraine.

Putin, who rose to power just eight years after the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991, proposed extra powers for Denis Manturov, 55, the only first deputy prime minister in the new government of Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.

Putin's energy point man, Alexander Novak, 52, will remain as deputy prime minister overseeing energy but will get additional duties for running the economy, according to the government.

Manturov oversees the Russian defence and civilian industry, which has surprised the United States and its European allies by ramping up artillery production faster than the whole of the NATO military alliance combined despite sanctions.

"The increase in the status of the deputy prime minister in charge of industry is due to the importance of ensuring technological leadership," the Russian government said.

Russia said it aspired to "technological leadership in all areas," such as aircraft manufacturing, machine tool building, radio electronics and the military-industrial complex.

Novak has implemented Russia's key relationship with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.


"Novak has the necessary managerial experience," the government said. "For a long time, he coordinated economic and financial issues in various positions, both in business and in municipal and public service."

The proposals, formally made by Mishustin, have to be confirmed by the lower house of parliament.

Dmitry Patrushev, formerly agriculture minister, will become a deputy prime minister overseeing the agricultural sector. Oksana Lut will become agriculture minister.

Putin left Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Economy Minister Maxim Reshetnikov in their jobs, but proposed Sergei Tsivilev, governor of Kemerovo region, as energy minister instead of Nikolai Shulginov. Anton Alikhanov, the 37-year-old governor of Kaliningrad, was proposed as trade and industry minister.

Putin's 2022 invasion of Ukraine has touched off the worst fall-out in relations between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, according to Russian and U.S. diplomats.

The West casts the invasion as an imperial-style land grab and has vowed to help Ukraine defeat Russian forces. Putin casts the war as a battle with the West which he says tried to encroach on Russia's sphere of influence, which he considers to include Ukraine.

Russia controls 18% of Ukraine. Its economy has grown despite the West's sanctions and Russian forces are advancing in Ukraine despite hundreds of billions of dollars in Western support for Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly warned that Western support for Ukraine - including Western weapons that have been used to hit Russian territory - risks escalating the conflict into a broader European war, and says it will achieve all of its aims in Ukraine.

Other major appointments, such as proposals for the defence, foreign and key security services, are likely to come on Monday.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Alex Richardson and David Holmes)