What’s Behind the Creation of Russia’s New National Guard

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Servicemen of the Internal Troops of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs at a training ground in Rostov region, southern Russia.

¬†[ Editor’s Note: ¬†Putin is showing that he plans to stay ahead of the threat curve, including internal ones. Unsaid in all of the coverage below is this restructuring is putting firewalls up for avenues where “foreign influence” might want to effect a change in government in terms of ¬†a Putin coup.

You can just image the goodies that certain Western factions could put on the table to effect such a situation. So Putin will remain the Teflon Don not only to the minor and pitiful western barbs never sticking to him, but also the lead and steel jacketed kind… Jim W. Dean ]

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– First published ¬†… ¬†April 05, ¬†2016

In a sweeping reorganization of Russia’s internal security apparatus, President Vladimir Putin has announced the creation of the National Guard ‚Äď a powerful new paramilitary unit charged with combating terrorism and organized crime and maintaining social order. Why did the president decide to create the new unit now? Sputnik investigates.



On Tuesday, in¬†a meeting with¬†the heads of¬†Russia’s major internal defense and law enforcement agencies, President Putin announced the creation of¬†a new federal executive body ‚Äď the National Guard, which will be charged with¬†fighting terrorism and organized crime, and with¬†helping to¬†maintain peace and order inside¬†the country.

Formed out¬†of the Internal Troops of¬†the Ministry of¬†Internal Affairs, the National Guard, according to¬†the president, will continue to¬†work “in close cooperation” with¬†the ministry.

President Vladimir Putin
Putin Announces Creation of National Guard to Fight Terror, Organized Crime

For reference, the Ministry of¬†Internal Affairs includes Russia’s police and traffic police; the Internal Troops, meanwhile, constitute a gendarmerie-like paramilitary force. The new National Guard’s tasks, the president noted, will include those previously assigned to¬†OMON and SOBR, tactical special rapid response forces whose functions include the maintenance of¬†public order, assisting police (in a manner similar to¬†SWAT in¬†America), and maintaining order in¬†the event of¬†a state of¬†emergency.

At the same time, the decree published on¬†the president’s website explains, the National Guard will also be charged with¬†assuring territorial defense, preventing and dealing with¬†internal armed conflicts, and guarding important facilities, such as¬†nuclear power plants, and cargoes, as¬†well as¬†the protection of¬†other property. The federal body, according to¬†the decree, will also work with¬†the Federal Security Service (Russia’s main intelligence agency) in¬†the protection of¬†state borders.

The reorganization, Russian analysts have noted, is significant precisely due to¬†the new body’s potential size and strength; the Internal Troops currently number about¬†200,000 men, and in¬†addition to¬†their other functions, they play an important role in¬†maintaining law and order in¬†the North Caucasus. The troops are fully motorized, have access to¬†armored vehicles (though in¬†smaller quantities than¬†the army), and have their own aviation, engineering, marine and other formations as¬†well.

In addition to the Internal Troops, the National Guard will ostensibly include territorial SWAT and riot police, as well as federal security guard services, totaling 230,000 people; all told, therefore, the new federal service will have up to 430,000 people under its command.

Vikto Zolotov - the man behind Putin, literally
Vikto Zolotov – the man behind Putin, literally

The decree on¬†the National Guard is part of¬†a major reorganization of¬†the security forces. In addition to¬†the formation of¬†the new service, Putin announced that Russia’s Federal Migration Service and the Federal Drug Control Service would be merged into¬†the Ministry of¬†Internal Affairs, which already has ample experience in¬†dealing with¬†both drug crime and issues related to¬†migration.

The National Guard, it was announced, will be headed by¬†Viktor Zolotov, formerly the commander of¬†the Internal Troops, and the former head of¬†the president’s personal security. His new rank will be equal to¬†that of¬†a federal minister, and he will report directly to¬†the president.

A veteran officer in¬†Russia’s security services, Zolotov served as¬†Putin’s personal bodyguard starting in¬†1999. Before that, he served as¬†bodyguard to¬†President Boris Yeltsin, and to¬†St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoli Sobchak, which is where he met Putin.

Between 2000 and 2013, Zolotov was the head of¬†the president’s personal security service, serving as¬†the deputy director of¬†the Federal Protective Service, the agency charged with¬†the protection of¬†high-ranking state officials, including the president.

View of the Russian State Duma building on Okhotny Ryad Street

The rules and legal basis of¬†the National Guard’s operations, according to¬†the presidential press service, will be laid out¬†in detail in¬†a future federal law. Following the decree on¬†its creation Tuesday, the president submitted draft legislation to¬†the lower house of¬†parliament, the State Duma for¬†deliberation and approval.Commenting on¬†the reasons for¬†the reorganization and the National Guard’s ultimate purpose, Russian analysts are divided in¬†their assessments.

For their part, liberal commentators at Gazeta.ru suggested that the new service will provide the president with¬†extensive leverage over¬†the country’s security forces. At the same time, the paper speculated, the reorganization is meant to¬†accommodate Zolotov, who had had bouts of¬†bureaucratic infighting with¬†Internal Affairs Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev in¬†the past.

For its part, Moscow-based online newspaper Lenta.ru offered another perspective ,suggesting that the formation of¬†the new force may be connected with¬†the Russia’s¬†military doctrine of¬†2014, which saw the introduction of¬†a number of¬†new threats to¬†national security, associated with¬†internal and external factors aimed at¬†the country’s destabilization.

“It’s obvious that given a major restructuring of¬†the range of¬†threats, new specific steps [were] needed to¬†create a system capable of¬†compensating for¬†these threats,” the online paper noted, adding that until¬†now, apart from¬†counterterrorism tools, which are highly effective, but¬†limited in¬†terms of¬†applicability, the state “simply did not have the tools” necessary to¬†counter the perceived new dangers.

Military exercise at Baltic Fleet base in Kaliningrad Region
Russia’s Military Doctrine: Facts And Details

The president’s “announcement on¬†the creation of¬†a separate ‘internal army’,” Lenta.ru suggested, indicates the seriousness with¬†which the Kremlin has approached the problem.

“The terrorist threat is discussed directly and can be interpreted very widely, for¬†example, in¬†the spirit of¬†the now popular concept of ‘hybrid warfare’, in¬†which the main role is played by¬†mobile paramilitary forces systematically destabilizing a large state from¬†within.”Ultimately, the paper suggests, in¬†its pursuit of¬†combating destabilization and civil disturbances, as¬†well as¬†resolving problems of¬†social unrest following¬†natural or man-made disasters, “the National Guard is not unlike¬†its American counterpart, which works in¬†disaster areas, and in¬†areas of¬†major civil unrest.”

Finally, Lenta.ru notes, “questions remain about¬†the functions of¬†the newly created security service ‚Äď in¬†particular, its possible acquisition of¬†the powers of¬†investigation, motivated by¬†its tasks of¬†fighting terrorism and extremism. [If this were to¬†occur,] Russia, factually, will receive not only a new security agency, but¬†also a new, full-fledged intelligence agency.”

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