Speculation about Serdyukov’s possible downfall has floated around for years, but he had received Putin’s staunch backing until now. Putin authorized and publicly praised Serdyukov’s reforms, and some observers expect that they will continue, although perhaps at a slower pace, under his successor.
‘‘The continuation of the military reform is inevitable,’’ Korotchenko said. ‘‘Radical changes that have been made in the command system and the structure of the military can’t be reversed.’’
But others warned that Shoigu, who had served as the nation’s Emergency Situations minister for two decades before being appointed regional governor half a year ago, would likely face strong pressure from the top brass to take a less radical approach to military reform.
‘‘The new boss will have to take a new approach differing from that of his predecessor,’’ said Golts, ‘‘and that would create a good opportunity for those who want to stop this reform.’’
Jim Heintz and Laura Mills contributed to this report.