Medvedev (R) and Putin. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his cabinet resigned Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin announced major changes to the structure of Russia's government.

Why it matters: This is part of a much wider shakeup. Putin is facing constitutional term limits that, unless amended, will force him to leave office in 2024. In his state of the nation address, Putin proposed a referendum that would shift more power to the prime minister and cabinet and away from any presidential successor.

Medvedev said after Putin's speech that, “under these conditions, I believe it would be right for the government of the Russian Federation to resign," per the WSJ.

  • Medvedev served as president from 2008-2012 when Putin was serving as prime minister, and the two swapped jobs upon Putin's return to the Kremlin.
  • Putin said Medvedev would be offered the newly created post of deputy chairman of Russia’s security council.
  • Medvedev is unpopular, and has occasionally been used by Putin as a scapegoat for the government's failings.
  • Putin's choices for prime minister and other top jobs will be closely watched for hints that a successor is being groomed.

Details: "Putin suggested amending Russia’s constitution to limit a future president to two terms in office — he has served four — tightening residency requirements for presidential candidates, and letting parliament choose candidates for prime minister and the cabinet, in effect weakening the presidency," per the Guardian.

What to watch: Putin could return as prime minister in 2024 or take charge of the state council, which will also become more powerful.

  • Another theory is that he will place himself at the head of a potential new commonwealth between Russia and Belarus.

Go deeper... 20 Years of Putin: Tracing his rise from KGB to Kremlin

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