Russia’s newly appointed deputy prime minister has a challenge ahead of him: protecting and building the country’s defense-industrial base amid Western sanctions and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Denis Manturov, 53, is now in charge of the country’s weapons industry, having been appointed July 15 by President Vladimir Putin. Most recently, Manturov served as the minister of industry and trade and reportedly has Putin’s favor, accompanying the Russian president on most foreign and domestic trips.

Manturov replaces Yuri Borisov, who was appointed to run the Russian state space agency Roskosmos.

Unlike Borisov, who spent his early career serving in the armed forces, Manturov has a civilian background. A government-published biography says Manturov helped run the the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant from 1998 to 2000, and then became business director of the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant. At the former, he focused on export efforts of the Mi-8 helicopter.

From 2001 to 2003, he was deputy chairman of the state investment corporation Gosincor, and from 2003 to 2007 served as head of helicopter manufacturer Oboronprom. After that, he was appointed a deputy minister with the government, where he went on to focus on industry, trade and energy.

Manturov makes 705.5 million rubles (U.S. $12.1 million) annually, according to his official declaration published on a Russian government site in April. Russian media has previously reported on his close business ties with Sergey Chemezov, who leads the defense industry conglomerate Rostec. Since 2012, Manturov has maintained a post on the body overseeing Rostec’s business activities.

Members of the Manturov and Chemezov families were involved in hotel investments, RBC newspaper reported, and Sergey Chemezov once described Denis Manturov as a “trustable friend” during an interview.

Manturov backed efforts to turn Rostec into Russia’s largest industrial manufacturer, which would see it control production of everything from cars to military helicopters. “When we gathered [companies], we were asked: Why? The answer is simple: in order to consolidate enterprises and attract private investment,” Manturov told the Kommersant newspaper in 2017.

A defense industry source in 2018 told Defense News Rostec’s consolidation efforts are “an open secret.”

“Rostec is trying to absorb as much of the industry as they can,” the source said on the condition of anonymity. “Rostec makes certain moves, and then Manturov supports them. The company is, in effect, a kind of shadow ministry of defense industry production.”

During an address to parliament in late December 2021, Manturov praised former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s role in the country’s economic development, calling him a “great political statesman.”

And speaking to RBC newspaper soon after his recent appointment, Manturov called the defense sector the “backbone” of Russia’s economy.

A former defense industry executive described Manturov as a “technocrat.”

“For the defense industry, which Manturov will now oversee, this is obviously a plus,” he told Defense News on the condition of anonymity, as he currently works with the Russian government and was not authorized to speak to the media. “The ministerial business approach and pragmatism is exactly what the defense cluster needs, especially today. There are some questions about how relations with [Defence Minister Sergei] Shoigu will develop, but one should not expect any [clashing between the two].”

The country’s defense-industrial base is currently trying to keep up with demand amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and economic sanctions imposed on Moscow by the West. Dmitry Litovkin, a military analyst, told Defense News that Manturov knows the industry well, but will still need to develop a relationship with a sector that preferred Borisov, whose members considered him “a man of common ranks” like themselves.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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