Vladimir Putin has reinforced his National Guard with its own elite special forces unit, as well as tanks, warplanes, and artillery, to protect him from another rebellion.
The Russian president personally ordered the Interior Ministry’s Grom special forces unit to move under the command of the National Guard, according to Alexander Khinshtein, an MP for Putin’s United Russia party.
“By the decision of the president, the Grom unit is transferred to the Russian National Guard along with the staff and the entire infrastructure,” he said.
Grom, which means ‘thunder’ in English, has a reputation for tough no-nonsense operations capturing gangland leaders and has around 7,000 men.
Putin created the National Guard in 2016 and ordered it to report directly to him, rather than to the Ministry of Defence, leading analysts to describe it as his “Praetorian Guard.”
It is headed by his loyal former bodyguard, Viktor Zolotov, and has 320,000 men, previously viewed as a cross between armed police and militia units whose main role had been to crush anti-Kremlin protesters.
However, since a rebellion by the Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin last month, Putin’s thinking has changed, and he is now believed to be worried about the loyalty of his security services and military officers.