Less than two months ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin saw his hold on power seem to crumble for a moment, as thousands of Wagner Group mercenaries launched a mutiny.
In the end, Wagner pulled back. Putin remained in power, and the carnage in Ukraine continues.
Now, Putin is taking measures to ensure his control, empowering allies throughout the system.
From Wagner Group to the Rosgvardia
In early August, Putin signed into law a scheme to equip the Russian national guard, or Rosgvardia, with heavy weapons including main battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and even attack helicopters.
Created in 2016, the Rosgvardia has more than 200,000 personnel in its ranks. Some of them have fought in Ukraine. The organization is headed by Viktor Zolotov, a former KGB security guard and Putin’s former bodyguard.
“Despite Zolotov’s claim that his force performed ‘excellently’ during the mutiny, there is no evidence that Rosgvardia carried out any effective action against Wagner: exactly the sort of internal security threat it was designed to repress,” British Military Intelligence assessed in a recent estimate on the war.
“With Zolotov previously suggesting that heavy equipment should include artillery and attack helicopters, the move suggests that the Kremlin is doubling down on resourcing Rosgvardia as one of the key organizations to ensure regime security,” British Military Intelligence added.
However, the euphemistically labeled special military operation isn’t going well for Putin and Russia, and further struggles could upset the power balance down the line. The Rosgvardia and its loyalty might prove to be a determining factor in that event.
Russian Casualties in Ukraine
Meanwhile, on day 537 of the Russian invasion, Russian forces continue to lose upward of 500 men killed, wounded, or captured every day — as well as dozens of heavy weapons systems such as main battle tanks, artillery pieces, multiple launch rocket systems, and infantry fighting vehicles.
Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Sunday, Ukrainian forces have killed and wounded approximately 253,850 Russian troops. They also claim they have destroyed 322 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets; 313 attack and transport helicopters; 4,298 tanks; 5,072 artillery pieces; 8,335 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles; 713 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems; 18 boats and cutters; 7,543 vehicles and fuel tanks; 477 anti-aircraft batteries; 4,204 tactical unmanned aerial systems; 760 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems; and 1,378 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.
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