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UK Defense Ministry: Kremlin arming Rosgvardia for regime security

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 8, 2023 10:58 AM 2 min read
Russian National Guard Service officers seen during a meeting with officers of Russian army and secret services on June 27, 2023, in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)
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The Kremlin is "doubling down" on providing the Rosgvardia, the Russian National Guard, with heavy equipment, as it sees the force as a key organization for ensuring regime security, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its Aug. 8 intelligence update.

On Aug. 4, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a measure which allows Rosgvardia to be equipped with heavy weaponry.

Viktor Zolotov, the director of Rosgvardia and a former bodyguard for Putin, previously suggested the force should be armed with artillery and attack helicopters, according the the update.

Zolotov claimed that Rosgvardia performed "excellently" during the short-lived Wagner Group mutiny against the Russian government on June 23-24.  

Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko allegedly helped broker a deal for Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and his troops to relocate to Belarus after they stopped short of reaching Moscow.

However, U.K. intelligence believes there is "no evidence that Rosgvardia carried out any effective action" to suppress the armed rebellion, despite it being "exactly the sort of internal security threat" the force was set up to control.

Following the crisis, Putin held a meeting with Zolotov and other top security officials on June 26, according to Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman.

Rosgvardia was created in 2016 by presidential decree and is a separate force to the Russian Armed Forces. The U.K. Defense Ministry believes it has up to 200,000 front-line personnel.  

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