According to international analysts, this is a response to the Wagner mercenaries attempting a rebellion against Putin. The private army took control of the strategic Russian city of Rostov-on-Donin. Then they marched dangerously close to Moscow before turning back.
In response to the Wagner rebellion, Putin appears to have grown wary of the loyalty of his own security services and military officers. As a result, he has ordered the Interior Ministry’s 7,000-men-strong Grom special forces unit to operate under the National Guard’s command.
Moreover, the National Guard has been armed with tanks, warplanes, and artillery, drawing comparisons to the Praetorian Guard of ancient Rome, who were fiercely loyal to the emperor.
The National Guard, established by Putin in 2016, directly reports to him rather than the Ministry of Defense and currently comprises 320,000 personnel. Under the leadership of Putin’s loyal former bodyguard, Viktor Zolotov, the National Guard’s main role is to crack down on anti-government protests.
The move to reinforce the Kremlin has been seen as an attempt to address potential future domestic challenges to Putin’s rule. By approving changes to the National Guard’s status, Russia has granted it the authority to employ “military equipment” in order to suppress the activities of illegal armed groups.