Putin doubles down on Mishustin amid economic turmoil

“It would be right if you continued to work as prime minister,” Putin told Mishustin, who has held the role since early 2020. The Russian leader expressed certainty that Mishustin’s nomination would be rubber-stamped by the State Duma.

President Putin has extended a firm vote of confidence in Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. At a carefully choreographed meeting on Friday, Putin made clear he intends to retain Mishustin as head of the Russian government, praising his cabinet’s efforts “in difficult conditions.” The president framed Mishustin’s reappointment as providing vital continuity and steady leadership.

“It would be right if you continued to work as prime minister,” Putin told Mishustin, who has held the role since early 2020. The Russian leader expressed certainty that Mishustin’s nomination would be rubber-stamped by the State Duma.

The decision defies swirling speculation that Putin could seek to install a fresh face atop the government as Russia’s economic outlook grows increasingly strained under the compounding pressures of Western sanctions and trade disruptions linked to the Ukraine conflict.

But instead of a shakeup, Putin has opted to double down on his incumbent prime minister, a longtime tax official with a technocratic management style. While stopping short of a full-throated endorsement of Mishustin’s policies, the president’s remarks suggested a preference for stability over major course changes.

Critics argue Putin is digging in with a premier unable or unwilling to implement the tough structural reforms Russia’s economy desperately needs to adapt to its corporate alienation. By keeping Mishustin in place, these critics say, Putin is shunning bolder policy pivots.

Yet the Russian leader may also see replacing his PM as an unacceptable image of turbulence at a time when he is projecting strength and resolve in the face of what he has branded an “economic war” engineered by hostile Western forces.

Mishustin’s reappointment allows Putin to present at least an air of government solidity and continuity amid the gathering economic storm.