Russian National Guard ‘under strain’ to contain domestic protests against mobilisation

Russian National Guard ‘under strain’ to contain domestic protests against mobilisation

The Russian National Guard is “under strain” as it struggles to quell domestic dissent against the war in Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defence has suggested.

President Vladimir Putin announced a “partial mobilisation” bolster the armed forces as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to falter earlier this week.

Following the announcement, police have been dispersing demonstrations as thousands take to the streets to protest the call-up in several cities.

In its latest intelligence update the MoD said more Russians could be mobilised to serve in the National Guard as it needs additional manpower to deal with protesters and the war in Ukraine.

The briefing reads: “On 21 September 2022, high-profile Russian nationalist Duma member Aleksandr Khinstein called for the partial mobilisation of Russia’s military to be extended to the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia).

“Rosgvardia units have played an important role in both combat and rear-area security in Ukraine and are currently facilitating accession referendums in occupied areas. The force is intended for use in domestic security roles, to ensure the continuity of Putin’s regime. It was particularly ill-prepared for the intense fighting it has experienced in Ukraine.”

It adds: “With a requirement to quell growing domestic dissent in Russia, as well as operational taskings in Ukraine, Rosgvardia is highly likely under particular strain. There is a realistic possibility that mobilisation will be used to reinforce Rosgvardia units with additional manpower.”

Up to 744 people were arrested on Saturday amid the backlash for Russia’s forced recruitment plan, according to independent monitoring group OVD-Info.

It comes as armed Russian troops are going door to door in occupied areas of Ukraine to force people to vote in Mr Putin’s controversial referendums on whether they want to become part of Russia.

Russian state media yesterday claimed the military was involved for “security” reasons but critics say the tactics are being used to ensure a higher turnout as part of a cynical Kremlin propaganda campaign.

Many Western analysts are convinced the referendums - taking place until Tuesday across the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia - will be rigged to allow Mr Putin to illegally claim occupied regions of Ukraine as Russian.