National Guard of Russia

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National Guard of
the Russian Federation
Федеральная служба войск национальной гвардии Российской Федерации
Шеврон Росгвардии.jpg
NationalGuardRussia.png
Emblem
Flag of National Guard of Russia.png
Flag
Abbreviation Росгвардия (Rosgvardiya)
from Russian: Rossiya (Russia) and Russian: gvardiya (guard)
Agency overview
Formed 2016
Employees 340,000[1]
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency
(Operations jurisdiction)
Russia
Operations jurisdiction Russia
Population 145 million
Legal jurisdiction Russian Federation
Governing body Security Council of Russia
General natureFederal law enforcementGendarmerieCivilian police
Headquarters Moscow

Parent agency Security Council of Russia
Notables
People
  • Viktor Zolotov, Director
  • Sergei Melikov, First Deputy Director
  • Sergei Chenchik, Chief of the Main Staff
  • Oleg Borukayev, Deputy Director
  • Sergei Yerygin, Deputy Director
  • Aleksandr Afinogentov, Deputy Director
Anniversary
  • March 27, National Guardsmen's Day
Website
rosgvard.ru

The National Guard of the Russian Federation or Rosgvardia (Russian: Федеральная служба войск национальной гвардии Российской Федерации) is the internal military force of the government of Russia, comprising an independent agency that reports directly to the President under his powers as Supreme Commander-in-Chief and Chairman of the Security Council. The National Guard is separate from the Russian Armed Forces.[2] The federal executive body was established in 2016 by a law signed by President Vladimir Putin to secure borders, take charge of gun control, combat terrorism, organized crime, protect public order and guard important state facilities.[3][4]

The establishment of the National Guard is seen as an effort to enhance efficiency and avoid duplication of responsibilities within the Russian security system.[5] The National Guard numbers approx. 340,000 personnel in 84 units across Russia and consolidated the forces of the MVD Internal Troops, SOBR, OMON and other internal military forces outside of the Russian Armed Forces.[1]

On 16 January 2017, the National Guard Day is designated to be marked on 27 March,[6] linking the National Guard to a long history of public security services within Russia, that day being the date when the Internal Guards Corps was established in 1811, by a decree of Tsar Alexander I.

Official name[edit]

The ministry's full name is the Federal National Guard Troops Service of the Russian Federation (Russian: Федеральная служба войск национальной гвардии Российской Федерации; Federalʹnaya sluzhba voiysk natsionalʹnoiy gvardii Rossiiyskoiy Federatsii). In official documents, it may be referred to by the romanized acronym FSVNG RF (Russian: ФСВНГ РФ). In Russian, the less formal acronym Rosgvardiya (Russian: Росгвардия, lit. "Russian Guard") is commonly used.[7][8]

History[edit]

Plans to create a National Guard directly subordinated to the president were reported in April 2012, when it was assumed by some journalists[9][10][11] that the National Guard would be formed to ensure the security and protection of the constitutional order on the basis of Russian MVD and other security agencies, including at the expense of the forces and means belonging to the Russian Airborne Troops, Air Force, Navy and the military police, as well as elements of EMERCOM of Russia;[12] the reform of security apparatus had been since the 1990s.[5]

The establishment of the Russian Federal National Guard Service reportedly caused turmoil in the Kremlin due to the fact the National Guard displaced several duties and functions normally carried out by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov stating that Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev did not resign; spokesman Peskov also denied that the establishment of the National Guard meant a crisis of confidence in the so-called "siloviki" and stated that the Federal Guard Service would retain its competences; however, he did not comment on whether the then-incumbent heads of the Federal Drug Service and the Federal Migration Service, which in the same days underwent a major reform with their subordination to the Interior Ministry, would retain their posts.[13]

The corps is a direct successor to Internal Troops of Russia (1918-2016) and to OMON (1988-2016) and SOBR (1992-2016) units formerly under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.[5]

According to Russian government-owned news agency Sputnik, on 18 May 2016 the National Guard and Chinese People’s Armed Police signed an agreement in order to hold joint tactical exercises,[14] from July 3 to July 14 in Russia's Moscow and Smolensk regions.[15]

Establishment process[edit]

National guard banner awarding ceremony, 27 March 2017

On 5 April 2016, President Putin created the National Guard of Russia by a Presidential Decree (Executive Order) - a legal act having the status of a by-law.[16]

On 6 April 2016, President Putin submitted to the State Duma (the lower house of parliament of the Federal Assembly) the draft framework law for this new executive body titled "On the Russian National Guard Troops" along with its corresponding amendments[17] that contains a provision for the protection of pregnant women, children, disabled persons and crowds, which mirrored verbatim the limitations already in place in the Russian legislation concerning police work:[18]

It shall be prohibited to use firearms against women with the visible signs of pregnancy, people with the apparent signs of disability and underage persons, except for the cases when such persons put up armed resistance, make an assault involving a group of attackers or commit another attack threatening the life and health of citizens or a National Guard serviceman, and it shall also be prohibited to use firearms at largely crowded places, if their use may casually hurt people.[19]

On 9 May 2016 the National Guard paraded for the first time. 400 National Guardsmen of the ODON Ind. Motorized Division of the National Guard Forces Command, Federal National Guard Service of the Russian Federation "Felix Dzerzhinsky" formed part of the 2016 Moscow Victory Day Parade.[20][21]

On 18 May 2016, State Duma approved the first of the three readings of the draft law establishing the National Guard.[22] On 22 June 2016, State Duma approved the last of the three readings of the draft law, thus establishing the National Guard;[23] the Federation Council soon followed.[3]

The first National Guardsmen to be enlisted took their military oaths on 1 June 2016.[24][25]

Establishment process phases[edit]

Presidential press secretary Peskov told reporters that the National Guard started operations before the legal basis for its work was actually finalized.[7]

According to Federal National Guard Service Director and National Guard Forces Director Viktor Zolotov, the formation of the Russian National Guard is to take place in three stages.[26] The first phase sees the transformation of the Interior Troops, of the OMON units and of the SOBR units (previously framed within the Politsiya) into National Guard units. The second step involves the elaboration of the troops' organizational and staff structure, harmonizing regulations and assigning specific tasks. Finally, the third phase envisages the completion of all the organizational activities and the beginning of execution of the tasks entrusted.[26]

Organization and leadership[edit]

Vladimir Putin and National Guard Director Viktor Zolotov, 5 April 2016

The National Guard of Russia is directly subordinated to the supreme commander-in-chief (i.e. President of Russia) with the incumbent[27] head of this new structure included into the Security Council as a permanent member.[7][13]

The National Guard is to take over many of the existing duties of the special police forces thus eliminating the link on their use that previously existed between President Putin and his Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev.[28]

In a major overhaul of Russia’s security agencies,[29] the National Guard which will include Interior Ministry troops, servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces (including paratroopers, air force, navy and military police), and (as proposed in 2012) Ministry of Emergency Situations personnel (such as fire fighters and rescue workers) consisting of both conscripts and contract personnel[16][30] and will take over functions previously managed by the OMON riot police and SOBR rapid-reaction forces.[31] In turn, the Federal Migration Service (FMS) and the Federal Drug Service (FSKN) are to be incorporated into the structure of the Interior Ministry.

In operation, the National Guard is expected to number some 350,000 to 400,000 men.[5] However, as of May 2016 the Russian government did not propose the size of the forces actually needed. The establishing Presidential decree points out that the transformation process should be completed by 1 June 2016.[29]

As for personnel policies, on 20 April 2016 FNGS Director Zolotov stated that the National Guard of Russia is to exclude the appointment of employees with low moral and professional qualities who have committed defamatory acts.[32]

Composition[edit]

The National Guard of Russia is organized into a composed structure, consisting of six broad elements:

  • National Guard Forces Command (Войска национальной гвардии), which handles the operational units (formerly belonging to the Interior Troops);
  • National Guard Special Operations and Aviation Center,[5] including Zubr, Vityaz, Rus and Yastreb special units;[27][33]
  • National Guard SOBR and OMON Units;
  • Administrations and other departments exercising federal oversight over firearms and private security regulation, personal protection and government personnel security guard service, including the Center for Specially Designated Government Personnel Security Protection (formerly belonging to the MVD);[27]
  • The federal state unitary enterprise "Okhrana" (provides paid security / rapid response services to citizens).[27]

Top leadership[edit]

According to the establishing presidential decree, the Federal National Guard Service (FNGS) is part of the executive branch, which is headed by the president of Russia. The Federal Service is led by a "Director", and the service director is simultaneously the commander of the National Guard Forces Command (NGFC). The director has six deputy directors, including a first deputy director who is simultaneously Chief of Staff of the National Guard and a "state secretary/deputy director";[27] the Head of Legal Department is Major-General Sergei Babaitsev.[34]

On 5 April 2016, Viktor Zolotov, the former commander of Russian Interior Troops, and the former head of the Russian President's personal security service, was appointed as Director of the Federal National Guard Service and Commander of the National Guard Forces Command [35] and relieved of his previous duties—and by a separate Presidential Decree was appointed a member of the Security Council too,[36] in a personal capacity.[27]

On 20 May 2016, newly promoted Colonel General Sergei Chenchik was appointed as Chief of the General Staff and First Deputy Director of the Russian Federal National Guard Service.[37] General Chenchik has reportedly a significant role in the North Caucasus security system since the late 1990s; according to Valery Dzutsati, Chenchik’s appointment as deputy head of the National Guard indicates that his approach to security problems is approved.[38]

According to the official website, other top positions include those of Commander of the troops of the National Guard of the Russian Federation, held in 2016 by Oleg Borukayev and Sergei Yerygin.[39]

Territorial organization[edit]

The territorial organization consists of eight National Guard Districts which have, as a rule, the same name of the relevant Federal District. An exception is the Eastern National Guard District, which handles military units stationed in the territory of the Far Eastern Federal District. Also, the Central and Northwestern National Guard Districts have full names which include honorific titles within them. In total, 8 National Guard Districts are created out of the 8 Federal Districts; these National Guard Districts have the same boundaries, names and headquarters of those of the former Internal Troops.[40] Each National Guard District is further subdivided into Brigades.[41]

Police officers are to be appointed to the post of heads of the National Guard Districts, while military officers ar to be appointed to the positions of chiefs of staff.[42]

The National Guard Districts are:

  • Central Orsha-Khingan Red Banner National Guard District - headquartered in Moscow; commander: General-colonel Igor Golloyev
  • Northwestern Order of the Red Star National Guard District - headquartered in Saint Petersburg; commander: General-colonel Pavel Dashkov
  • Volga National Guard District - headquartered in Nizhny Novgorod; commander: General-colonel Aleksandr Poryadin[43]
  • Southern National Guard District - headquartered in Rostov-on-Don; commander: General-lieutenant Oleg Kozlov
  • North Caucasian National Guard District - headquartered in Pyatigorsk; commander: General-lieutenant Sergei Kornyushkin
  • Ural National Guard District - headquartered in Yekaterinburg; commander: General-lieutenant Aleksandr Popov
  • Siberian National Guard District - headquartered in Novosibirsk; commander: General-colonel Viktor Strigunov[44]
  • Eastern National Guard District - headquartered in Khabarovsk; commander: General-colonel Igor Grudnov

Equipment[edit]

National Guard troops in the 2018 Moscow Victory Day Parade.

The National Guard units have the same equipment the Internal Troops used before. In May 2016, the Interior Ministry reportedly purchased 120 of RPO-A Shmel. According to Moscow Times, the rocket launchers were likely intended for the National Guard;[45] according to Gazeta.ru, also a tender for machine guns was announced by the Ministry.[46] 200 more RPO-As were ordered in April 2017.[47] According to Interfax, the AK-74 and AK-74M assault rifle variants will be the primary service weapon of the Russian National Guard, while special operations units attached to the National Guard are armed with AS Val sub-sonic silent assault rifles. Other weapons include weapons against underwater sabotage forces and non-lethal weapons.[48] GM-94 hand-held grenade launchers, armored boats and helicopter-type UAVs have also been received.[49]

The National Guard, as of April 2016, was reportedly rumoured to acquire «Bozena Riot» remotely operated armoured vehicle, designed to handle riots and mobs in the streets and urbanized areas.[50] The following month, i.e. May 2016, the corps was also scheduled to receive brand new KAMAZ Patrol mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle, which is used primarily as a mounted infantry troop carrier and ground support vehicle.[51] The vehicle entered service in 2017.[52] In January 2017, National Guard received the mobile robot KRMM-06 to remotely detect explosives and in May 2018 received the first Ka-226T helicopter.[53][54] Orsis T-5000 sniper rifles and SPM-3 Medved Armoured Vehicles are also been received.[55][56][57]

Media[edit]

The main publication of the National Guard of Russia is the magazine "In the line of duty". The full-colour magazine is published for the Internal Troops of Russia since 1958 and it is stated to cover matters of service activity of the corps, as well as history and literature.[58]

The media will not be allowed to report on the location of National Guard soldiers, in order to "protect the safety of the troops and their families".[3][59]

Mission[edit]

Missions of the National Guard of Russia include joint[5] operations in securing borders (in assistance to the border protection bodies of the Federal Security Service)[60] fighting terrorism, organized crime, and to perform the functions which are currently carried out by riot police units (OMON, SWAT, etc.),[16][13] as well as prison police units.[3] However, according to laws, the National Guard does not perform field investigation activities.[7][23] The Federal Service also received powers in the sphere of weapons turnover and control of private security activities.[60]

The National Guard also is to work to protect public safety and order along with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and guard important state facilities.[13]

According to President Vladimir Putin, a major area of responsibility of the National Guard is the overseeing the various kinds of security provisions and the authorization system of the right to possess firearms, the oversight of private security firms and the management of the interior troops proper.[61]

Operations abroad[edit]

Until the final approvation, it was not yet clear whether these forces will be taking part in counter-terrorism operations abroad, with different open sources reporting different assessments,[7][16][17][30][36][62] but, according to the draft presidential decree, it was expected to get the right to interact with competent bodies of other countries, including training relationships.[14][63] According to some pro-Ukrainian sources, National Guard units were in May 2016 already in Donbass in order to prevent desertion of Novorussian soldiers.[64]

The law includes the possibility of using National Guard troops in international operations "to restore and maintain peace".[65]

Powers[edit]

Contrary to Constitution of Russian Federation which not mention such, this military organization controls all aspects of civil society life, by creation Putin used the article number 80 which described only the authority of president.[66]

According to TASS news agency, National Guard has some powers similar to the functions discharged by the Federal Security Service.[60]

Specifically, the National Guard is controversially allowed to fire into crowds in a select number of situations, such as terrorist incidents, hostage situations, or if a government building secured by the National Guard comes under attack, although the soldiers are forbidden in all circumstances from shooting at pregnant women, children, or people with disabilities. Troops can also use physical force against direct threats to members of the public or fellow soldiers, special cargoes, structures along communications lines protected by National Guard troops and the National Guard troops’ facilities, as well as open and search cars, check for identification documents and detain citizens. The National Guard also can seal off areas, including for the purpose of preventing mass riots.[3][60]

In a state of emergency, the National Guard personnel have the right to ban the traffic of vehicles and pedestrians, use citizens’ cars to arrive at the scene of an emergency situation or chase criminals, enter houses, use force, special means and weapons.[60]

According to the establishing law, National Guard troops exercise their activity on the basis of the principles of legality, the observance of the rights and freedoms of an individual and a citizen, single authority and centralized control.[60]

According to Gordon M. Hahn, the rapid reaction forces and special operational forces and aviation of the National Guard remain under the MVD’s operational command.[27]

Evolution of the proposed powers[edit]

In April 2016, the National Guard was expected to be vested with the right to request federal, state and local authorities, officials and citizens documents, reference and other materials required for decision-making on the issues referred to their spheres of activity, as well as to suspend or limit in emergency situations the use of any communications networks and communications means, and also to exercise the right to the priority use of these communications networks and communications means.[63]

According to the draft provisions, the National Guard would to be allowed to shoot without warning if delay in using them (firearms) could create a direct threat to the life or health of a citizen or National Guard soldier.[67] According to the same draft provisions, the corps cannot exercise armed force against pregnant women, disabled people and minors, except for self-defence and other exceptional situations,[19] although it will be authorized to block cars and pedestrians in extraordinary situations and use citizens' motor vehicles to come to the scene of an extraordinary event or chase criminals.[19]

Despite the draft provisions, Russian Duma's Committee on Defense made the recommendation to allow the National Guard to shoot into crowds.[68]

According to an amendment passed into the draft law, a serviceman of the National Guard has no right to use weapons in a crowded area, excluding the use of weapons in order to prevent terror attack, freeing hostages, repelling a group or armed attack on important state objects or cargos.[69] Under similar conditions, the legislative amendments granted the National Guard the right to search individuals' vehicles.[70][71]

Domestic and international reaction[edit]

The establishment of the Russian Federal National Guard Service triggered several domestic and international reactions and assessments, with attempts to interpret and explain the move, ranging from power games[72] to plans to prevent colour revolutions.[5][73]

State Duma reactions[edit]

On the first reading of the draft law, held on 18 May 2016, ruling party United Russia, nationalist leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky and A Just Russia backed the establishment of the National Guard,[22] with A Just Russia MP Mikhail Yemelyanov holding that there is no reduction of democracy in Russia.[74]

On the other hand, Communist MP Vyacheslav Tetekin said that the Communist Party of the Russian Federation does see a link between the move and the bad conditions of the Russian economy;[22] according to Tetekin, assigning all combat units to a separate structure would critically weaken the Interior Ministry and that assigning to the National Guard the task to license private security firms had nothing to do with countering terrorism and extremism.[75]

National Guard as an element of power games[edit]

With the timing of President Putin’s creation of this National Guard force coming ahead of the 2016 parliamentary election to the State Duma in Russia, and crashing oil prices, Pavel Felgengauer, an independent military analyst based in Moscow, said this new force is ..a kind of Praetorian Guard to deal with the internal enemy and further stated It reminds me of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. We see an aging emperor appointing his bodyguard chief of everything." [31]

Mark Galeotti, professor at New York University's Center for Global Affairs, wrote in a post on his blog, In Moscow's Shadows [76] that [National guard] forces have little real role fighting crime or terrorism; they are public security forces, riot and insurrection control and deterrence assets.[31]

Konstantin Gaaze,[77] a Moscow-based political analyst and journalist with the Carnegie Moscow Center, said this new force was linked to the election cycle and that Putin wants to make sure the situation that took place on the Maidan, in Ukraine, won't happen in Russia.[31] Gaaze further said that Putin's creation of the National Guard created a counterbalance not only to the Federal Security Forces, but also to the army itself and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stating: The newly established National Guard is the president's army in the literal sense of the word. An army, which can be used without intermediaries in the form of a defense minister and without the constitutional rules on the use of the Armed Forces.[72]

Ella Paneyakh,[78] senior researcher for the Department of Political science and Sociology at the European University at Saint Petersburg, said that this new National Guard force was not just another law enforcement agency, but another army that had the right to conduct military operations against the country's citizens.[72]

Russian political scientist Gleb Pavlovsky, who heads the analytics department of the Center for Political Technologies (CPT), said Putin's creation of the National Guard was to counter the power of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.[72]

Tatiana Stanovaya,[79] who heads the Center for Political Technologies (CPT) in France, in commenting on Viktor Zolotov's appointment to head the National Guard said: The unnecessary link, that of a minister between the commander-in-chief and the head of the National Guard is removed. Whoever the minister is, a brother, friend, classmate or judo coach, his hand may tremble when you need him to execute an order. Zolotov is protected from those fluctuations as much as possible.[72]

Researcher Gordon M. Hahn, for The Duran, deems the probability of a "palace coup" as being minor than other scenarios. In this view, the National Guard is an added insurance against a regime split, palace coup, or other elite politics. Another "power game"-related reason may be, according to Hahn, the will to reduce power of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.[27]

National Guard as a tool against strategic destablization[edit]

According to Roger McDermott for The Jamestown Foundation the establishment of the National Guard is intended in order to counter colour revolutions and links foreign and domestic threat assessments as part of a seamless web. McDermott links the origins of the corps to experience acquired during internal crises and power games among key actors in the 1990s,[5] as well as to colour revolutions abroad, especially close to the Russian borders and in Middle East. In this view, the 2016-2017 election cycle in Russia supplied domestic context for the timing of the implementation of the 2016 reform aimed to counter a strategic threat,[5] but the deep reason does not lie into the actual elections.[5]

Italian economist and businessman Giancarlo Valori holds a similar viewpoint to that of McDermott, insofar he deems the National Guard as intended to relieve Russian internal and foreign Intelligence Services of a whole range of traditional and routine tasks related to the internal security, in order to obtain a more geostrategic intelligence. In this view, the main stability threats are Islamist terrorism, imported jihad and Colour revolutions.[73]

Gordon M. Hahn lists as the top-two reasons behind the establishment of the National Guard the possibilities of inter-departmental tension, violent conflict, and even armed clashes possible in conditions of potential greater instability and Colour revolutions or indigenous ones.[27]

According to former FSB Director and Russian MP (for United Russia) Nikolai Kovalyov, the establishment of the National Guard was important amid NATO’s eastward expansion.[80]

Official comments of Vladimir Putin[edit]

Russian President Vladimir Putin, during a televised debate, denied the mistrust in current security establishment: according to him, the direct subordination to the President comes from the fact the National Guard has the authority of a ministry, and as a power ministry it reports to the President.[61]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

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