June 17, 2024

Putin’s New Body Guard Includes Elite Special Forces, Tanks and Aircraft

  • Putin reinforced his National Guard with elite special forces, armed with tanks and warplanes.
  • The Russian president does not trust the loyalty of his security services after the Wagner coup.
  • The move is seen as making the Kremlin “coup-proof,” analysts said The Telegraph.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has bolstered his National Guard with an elite special forces unit to protect him in the event of another uprising, the British newspaper The Telegraph reported.

The National Guard, created by Putin in 2016, has 320,000 men and reports directly to him rather than the Defense Ministry.

It is headed by former Putin loyalist Viktor Zolotov, and its main functions have included combating anti-government protests.

An MP for Putin’s United Russians party, Alexander Khinshtein, said Putin personally ordered the 7,000-man Grom special forces unit of the Interior Ministry to move under his command.

He has also brought in tanks, warplanes and artillery to bolster the National Guard, which analysts have described as his “Praetorian Guard,” drawing parallels with the elite Roman imperial bodyguards loyal to the emperor, according to The Telegraph.

It is believed that, after Wagner’s rebellion, Putin is worried about the loyalty of his security services and military officers.

Russia approved the changes to the status of the National Guard earlier this week and said it can now be armed with “military equipment” to prevent “activities of illegal armed groups”.

This move by Putin is an attempt to “coup the Kremlin,” Ben Noble, Associate Professor of Russian Politics at University College London, told the Telegraph.

“It is likely that the Kremlin is revealing its concerns about possible future domestic challenges to its rule,” he said. “Prigozhin’s rebellion raised the level of uncertainty regarding elite and popular support for the regime.”

Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper reported that Putin was using Grom to lure former Wagner fighters who did not want to join other mercenaries in exile in Belarus.

Andrei Soldatov, an expert on Russia’s security services, told the Telegraph that the move was “significant”.

“Putin is focusing on the command and control of the special forces after Prigozhin’s rebellion,” he said.

John Hardie, deputy director of the Russia program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Telegraph that the move was a victory for the former guard Zolotov, as Grom was the last special police unit of the Ministry of the Interior.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *