Putin unexpectedly fired Anatoly Serdyukov this month amid a military corruption scandal focused on the suspicious sale of military assets.
Putin said Friday that Serdyukov lost his job over "doubts about his ability to oversee property issues." But he added that Serdyukov would not be blacklisted.
He says, "We aren't in 1937," referring to the peak year of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's purges.
Some observers believe the dismissal was likely rooted in a battle over 20 trillion rubles ($635 billion) that the Kremlin plans to spend on weapons through 2020. Serdyukov was demanding higher quality and cheaper prices, angering Kremlin-connected industry leaders.