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Federal Service of Troops
Russian Federation National Guard (RF FSVNG)
Federal'naya Sluzhba Voisk
Natsionalnoy Gvardii

Russia's president signed a decree April 05, 2016 to create a national guard tasked with fighting terrorism and organized crime. The new federal agency will be led by Vladimir Putin's former chief bodyguard, Viktor Zolotov. Putin said in a televised meeting with Zolotov and other top security officials in the Kremlin that the new government entity will merge the country's interior ministry troops with riot police and swat teams. He also said that Russia's drug control and migration services will be incorporated into the interior ministry's structure.

The National Guard is 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. As head of the National Guard, Zolotov will have a cabinet-level seat in the Security Council, the powerful Kremlin advisory body, and will report directly to the president, bypassing the interior minister.

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.

The decree listed the main duties of the newly created national guard, which in addition to the fight against terrorism and extremism, include other functions such as participation in the territorial defense of the Russian Federation, protection of important state facilities and special cargoes, support for border protection, and the monitoring of compliance with the law in the areas of arms circulation. The decree says that it takes effect on the day of signing.

Plans to create the National Guard, which will be subordinated to the president, were reported in 2012. Initially it was assumed that the first and foremost at the National Guard will be protective function (why its leaders and other main guard President): combating riots, prevention and liquidation of mass disorders. It was assumed that the National Guard would be formed to ensure the security and protection of the constitutional order on the basis of Russian Interior Ministry and other security agencies, including at the expense of the forces and means belonging to the Airborne Forces, Air Force, Navy and the military police, as well as elements of EMERCOM of Russia. But in the end the National Guard gained expanded functions, which meant more hardware for Zolotov.

The term "National Guard" appeared at the initial stage of the French Revolution to designate units to ensure order in the streets of Paris. At the beginning of the XIX century this was the name adopted by the Americans: US National Guard is equipped with military reservists who periodically mobilized to suppress the riots.

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. 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.

Based on the decree of the text, it can be assumed that the National Guard under will be responsible for the suppression of unlawful protest, spokesman for the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov said. "Illegal, we can assume that the course" - Peskov said, but rejected the suggestion that the National Guard is created as a proactive step "in order to prepare for some rallies." The president's press secretary assured that the National Guard under the appearance is not associated with the forthcoming Duma and presidential elections.

The new Federal Service of troops of the National Guard include units of special rapid reaction forces (SWAT) and riot police, Special Operations Center Rapid Reaction Force and aviation security and observation technologies, in particular the Center for special purpose private security Interior Ministry, Interior Ministry, which supervises the observance of the legislation in the field of trafficking in arms and in the field of private security activities, as well as the Federal State Unitary Enterprise "Security", which provides services for the paramilitary and the physical protection and the installation and maintenance of security equipment.

The National Guard would 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.

Internal troops guard the order of more than fifty of so-called "closed" cities of the country. Including a million people. As well as around 100 important state facilities, including nuclear power plants, nuclear power companies and even nuclear icebreakers. The military explosives - true professionals, which is very important for ordinary citizens: for thus minimize the possibility of a deadly error, which out of ignorance or inability soldiers could make.

It is only at first glance, the internal forces play only a protective, almost peaceful function. And in this regard, even abandoned heavy weapons - they do not have tanks, rockets and heavy artillery. Nevertheless, in some ways this is the most belligerent forces. Every year about 15 thousand soldiers, non-commissioned officers, warrant officers and officers awarded departmental and nearly 300 soldiers - the state awards. They detained more than 1 million offenders, including some tens of thousands of criminals. And the guards for the protection of important state objects to catch more than 30 thousand offenders exclusion zones.

As of May 2016, the size of the Guard force had not been confirmed. Unconfirmed estimates range from 250,000 to 400,000. With a wide mandate and armed with tanks, heavy artillery and attack aircraft, an entity of this size would be a very powerful force. Other European national guards are dwarfed compared to Putin’s National Guard in sheer numbers. The contrast is especially stark in some cases. For example, the Lithuanian Armed Forces consist of about 16,000 soldiers, and the Latvian National Guard has some 11,000 personnel.

The reorganization is significant precisely due to the new body's potential size and strength. The Ministry of Internal Affairs includes Russia's police and traffic police; the Internal Troops, meanwhile, constitute a gendarmerie-like paramilitary force. The total number of Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2015 was little more than a million people. Of these, about 170,000 [by one estimate] were internal forces that were deployed almost throughout the country.

The Internal Troops numbered about 200,000 men [by another estimate], 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 would include territorial SWAT and riot police, as well as federal security guard services, totaling 230,000 people; all told, therefore, the new federal service would have up to 430,000 people under its command.

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 had ample experience in dealing with both drug crime and issues related to migration.

Liberal commentators at suggested that the new service would provide the president with extensive leverage over the country's security forces. At the same time, the paper speculated, the reorganization was meant to accommodate Zolotov, who had bouts of bureaucratic infighting with Internal Affairs Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev in the past.

Moscow-based online newspaper 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.

The president's "announcement on the creation of a separate 'internal army'," 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 suggested, 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, notes, "questions remain about the functions of the newly created security service – 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."

The National Guard will not perform field investigation activities, but they will be involved in fighting terrorism within the country, he added. It was not yet clear, however, whether these troops will be taking part in counter-terrorism operations abroad.

A spokesman for the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, said that the creation of the National Guard, which will replace the Russian Interior Ministry troops, is not related to the crisis of confidence to other power structures. Creating a National Guard under does not mean a crisis of confidence to other law enforcement agencies. Peskov also said that Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev was not going to resign against the backdrop of a new power structure. "Minister Kolokoltsov resignation did not ask," the president's press secretary said.

The head of the Moscow police union Mikhail Pashkin noted that the National Guard functions would overlap with the functions of the FSB, in particular to combat the problems of terrorism. He noted that the fight against terrorism is now legislated as a prerogative of the FSB. To connect to the National Guard under counter-terrorism, it needs to change the law. However, it is unclear why the new structure should duplicate the powers of the FSB, stressed Pashkin. "Does this mean that the FSB has doen a bad job in the fight against terrorism? And whether in addition to the security functions in the National Guard under still operational and search, without which it is impossible to fight terrorism?

There are more questions than answers, "- Pashkin said. "If the National Guard under the power will only perform tasks that are put in front of her Ministry of Internal Affairs, FSB, customs and others, the problems should not occur", - added Pashkin.

Retired FSB Major General Vasily Eremenko suggested that the National Guard took over the function of internal troops will carry out large-scale operations in the country. "If the FSB is struggling with individual, holding terrorists that train attack in the subway or train station, the new army unit will face a major terrorist groups, such as, for example, the Islamic State Group, banned in Russia" - said Eremenko.

On 29 April 2016 Director of the Federal Service of the Russian Federation troops National Guard - commander in chief of the troops of the National Guard of the Russian Federation General of the Army Viktor Zolotov approved a plan of actions for the formation of the Federal Service. Among the priorities he has identified the development and publication of a joint order of the Federal Service of Internal Affairs of the National Guard and troops of the Ministry on the establishment of an interdepartmental working group on delimitation of powers, the reception-transfer departments and agencies have joined the National Guard.

This will be done at two levels - national and regional. The first level will involve the Federal Service of the Russian Federation troops of the National Guard, the Russian Interior Ministry, other interested federal executive bodies; on the second - the regional command of troops and territorial bodies of the Russian Interior Ministry in the Federal District (Russian Federation). The work will be determination of the composition of forces and weapons in the federal districts, which will continue to develop proposals for their organizational structure, dislocation, building management systems and joint use.

After the approval of the President of the Russian Federation the structure, composition and deployment of National Guard troops will be deployed work on clarifying the main planning documents: the concept of the construction and development plan of service and combat use of troops and control system development concept troops National Guard of the Russian Federation.

In principle, the new document, to be developed, will be the State program "The National Guard of the Russian Federation." In addition, it is necessary to prepare proposals for amendments in Presidential Decree governing the management, cooperation, implementation of joint tasks as part of the United group of forces (forces) to conduct counter-terrorist operations in the North Caucasus region of Russia.

By decision of the General of the Army Viktor Zolotov, sharing plans for the troops of the National Guard with other law enforcement agencies will be clarified in due course with the introduction of the necessary changes before the end of this year.

The rules and legal basis of the National Guard's operations, according to the presidential press service, would be laid out in detail in a future federal law. Following the decree on its creation, the president submitted draft legislation to the lower house of parliament, the State Duma for deliberation and approval.

The lower house of parliament is due in May 2016 to consider whether President Vladimir Putin’s new National Guard should be allowed to shoot Russian citizens without warning. According to a draft law that Putin submitted to the State Duma, the National Guard would be prohibited from using firearms “at largely crowded places, if their use may casually hurt people.” In addition, National Guard personnel would be prohibited from firing at “women with visible signs of pregnancy, people with apparent signs of disability, and underage persons.”

However, members of the force would be allowed to shoot, without warning, anybody determined to be “threatening the life and health of citizens.” Taking this one step further, the Duma's committee on defense has proposed that National Guard members be granted immunity from any legal liability for actions they take that result in casualties. Russia's RBC News quoted the committee as saying “we believe that in these cases, the risk of harming random individuals will be justified,” and that members of the force "should not be held liable” if they need to open fire.

According to other provisions of the draft law, the National Guard would be authorized to quarantine an area to control riots, and to commandeer private citizens’ vehicles to get to a crime scene or chase criminals. The proposed legislation would also give the National Guard the right to take full control of any communication networks, if deemed necessary. Service members would be allowed to search homes, vehicles and individuals “if there are sufficient grounds to suspect them of committing a crime or an administrative offense."

The bill also says the National Guard would be staffed by conscripts as well as contract personnel. The National Guard would also have a mandate to take part in peacekeeping missions abroad, as well as an intelligence-gathering function in order to fight terrorism, extremism and organized crime.

The Russian National Guard and Chinese People’s Armed Police signed an agreement on 18 May 2016 to hold joint tactical exercises in July 2016. The joint exercises would focus on counter-terrorism, and the exercises are not aimed against any countries or regions. In accordance with the protocol, the joint drills have been given the code name ‘Cooperation – 2016’ and would take place in the first half of July 2016. Over a period of two weeks, in the Smolensk and Moscow regions, two combined mixed units consisting of Russian and Chinese service personnel (in a 50:50 ratio) would undergo classes on basic preparations for special forces in the form of practical actions.

Some experts in Russia and the West claim the creation of the National Guard is timed with the country's parliamentary elections, set for 18 September 2016. When asked, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said he could not explain the timing. Putin’s supporters praised the move. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov said creation of the force would "strengthen the combat readiness of units," while Irina Yarovaya, chairwoman of the Duma's committee on defense and anti-corruption, called it “an absolutely timely, adequate and systemic answer to modern challenges and threats.”

Mark Simakovsky, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and former country director for Russia at the Pentagon, said Kremlin authorities were taking precautions in the run-up to the September 2016 parliamentary elections, as well as the 2018 presidential elections. “Although Putin remains very popular, the regime has concerns with economic decline in the country, as well as issues related to sanctions,” Simakovsky said. He added that the Russian president "wants to make sure that any and all domestic dissent will be suppressed rapidly."

With a nearly unlimited mandate, the National Guard may not simply discourage large-scale demonstrations but may also send a clear message to the West. “The Russian president has always been paranoid about Western interference in Russia. This decision sends a signal to Western powers that there will be no 'Maidans' in Russia,” Simakovsky told VOA, referring to the protests in Ukraine that led to the ouster of that country's Moscow-backed president, Viktor Yanukovych, in 2014.

Tens of thousands of Russians participated in protests in late 2011 after parliamentary elections were marred by allegations of unfairness and fraud. Many people, including some opposition leaders, were jailed. As recently as February 2016, Putin said “enemies abroad” were trying to interfere with the parliamentary elections and tasked his security services to prevent any such actions.

“This looks to be Putin’s personal army. Basically, you have a person who can declare his own wars on countries with small armies,” said Anna Borchshevskaya, Russia expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Given its proposed “peacekeeping” function, Borchshevskaya said, the Kremlin will be able to use the National Guard to intervene in neighboring countries. “Officially, Putin said that the National Guard was created to fight terrorism. The new bills that are coming up in the Duma at the moment expand the definition of terrorism. So all this is very vague,” Borchshevskaya said. “When it comes to peacekeeping … we should be watching Ukraine, Georgia, Russia’s 'near abroad' and to some extent Syria.”

Mark Galeotti noted "As with so many crucial decisions, this came essentially unheralded, underlining the extent to which policy comes from a small, tight circle around Putin. It is not just that they have good operational security; they also clearly see no reason to prepare the public in advance.... There is no real reason for creating the NG out of the Interior Troops (VV) and other forces unless you have a serious worry about public unrest. Let’s be clear, whatever Putin says the militarised security forces of the VV and now NG have little real role fighting crime or terrorism; they are public security forces, riot and insurrection control and deterrence assets. ... The NG, as a federal agency, will be directly subordinated to the government, without a minister in the way. With Zolotov at its head, then it is even more clearly a personal, presidential Praetorian force, under a maximalist loyalist. This may not only be a force to keep the masses in check, but also the elite."

The structure includes Rosgvardii internal forces, special rapid reaction units, mobile units of the special purpose unit licensing and permitting work and private security, previously held as part of the Interior Ministry.

To create Rosgvardii defined in three stages. The first was completed in December 2016. The structure had been transferred Rosgvardii relevant MIA units transferred to the material and technical means, the objects of movable and immovable property, formed territorial agencies Rosgvardii in all regions of the country. The second phase was to complete the creation of the territorial authorities, it would be finally developed structure throughout the country and beefed up staffing level.

The third stage - will be the final in creating Rosgvardii - from September 2017 till January 2018. This would finally complete the construction of operational services will be developed all the major governing r business regulations, including cooperation with other law enforcement agencies. In the third phase of the military service will be transferred to riot police and SWAT, that is, they become soldiers.

In 2016 Rosgvardiey destroyed 125 bandits, including about 10 leaders of bandit groups, eliminated more than 300 infrastructure bandit underground in the North Caucasus Federal District. The republic of the North Caucasus remained a center of terrorist activity in the territory of the country. The Rosgvardiey prevented many Russian citizens leaving attempts to participate in international terrorist organizations, including the fighting in the Middle East countries.

Rosgvardiya became controller in the provision of private security services. Today, private security firms - are not just a unit to carry out protection, they should be a great help to the security forces to ensure the security of citizens. It was necessary to establish requirements for security companies working for the budget, primarily because they must be spent rationally. In addition, it will be specified and regulatory framework. Setting requirements will improve the quality and safety, and the quality of the budget expenditure for the execution of security services, and optimize the costs of the state for the protection of objects.

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