Russia Looks to Build Network of Wagner-Like Paramilitary Units

( – A new bill adopted on July 26 by Russia’s Duma parliament allows the head of every region in the country to create their own paramilitary units. The creation of these companies would be financed from regional and federal budgets. The bill’s text explained that these units will “strengthen” public safety and public order during martial law, during the period of mobilization, and during wartime.

The legislation comes after Ukrainian troops started their counteroffensive operations in March and as Russian forces are reportedly suffering heavy losses. It also comes after Wagner mercenary Group executed a mutiny against the Kremlin in June, which was canceled right before the troops reached the capital Moscow. The private military company has been crucial in the invasion of Ukraine as it has been assisting Russian troops, especially in the eastern city of Bakhmut.

The legislation points out that any regional unit created by the heads of every Russian region will be called to assist in different security operations. These would be protecting the border, fighting against reconnaissance and sabotage formations of foreign nations, and fighting against illegal armed groups. The assistance will be provided to the FSB, the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The legislation also noted that every employee of these units will have “the right” to stop the operation of different types of vehicles to “repel” any attack. These include surface and underwater vessels, as well as automated unmanned systems, unmanned vehicles, and unmanned aircraft.

Finally, it said that once disbanded, these paramilitary units will have to return each of the weapons given by the Ministry of Defense. Otherwise, Russian authorities will have full authorization to prosecute members of the units who refuse to comply. 

An amendment was introduced as part of a bill that will expand Russia’s draft age from January 1, 2024. As reported by Reuters, this allows the Kremlin to have a bigger number of young men liable for one year of military service, which would be spent in the war in Ukraine. 

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