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Russia wants a complete victory in the war and is tightening control over the territories seized in Ukraine - ISW

Russia is strengthening control over the territories seized in Ukraine with the help of the Russian Guard - ISW

Russia is continuing its efforts to create a military occupation force in Ukraine separate from its forward units. It is doing so with the help of newly formed Russian Guard regiments.

The short timeframe of their formation and their deployment indicate that the Kremlin is actively trying to use them to strengthen its rear and control the occupied Ukrainian territories. This is stated in a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The day before, Ukrainian military observer Kostyantyn Mashovets reported that the Russian command had completed the deployment of three newly formed regiments of the 116th Special Forces Brigade of the Russian Guard - the 900th, 901st and 902nd regiments - to the occupied part of Donetsk region.

According to him, the enemy has deployed the 116th Brigade in Chystyakove (Torez, 70 km east of Donetsk), the 900th Regiment in Melekine (22 km southwest of Mariupol), the 901st in Snizhne (80 km east of Donetsk), and the 902nd seven kilometers north of Chystyakove.

Russia wants a complete victory in the war and is tightening control over the territories seized in Ukraine - ISW

Mashovets estimated that the 116th Special Forces Brigade of the Russian Guard would perform "stabilization functions" in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine "on a permanent basis".

Local Russian media reported that in early September 2023, the Russian Guard began forming the 116th Brigade to serve in the occupied part of Donetsk region. At the end of October, ISW noted that this Russian brigade received a T-80BV tank, which was used by Wagner PMC mercenaries during the armed uprising in Russia in June 2023.

Russia wants a complete victory in the war and is tightening control over the territories seized in Ukraine - ISW

According to analysts, the short timeframe and locations of the new Russian Guard regiments indicate that Russia is actively trying to use these forces to strengthen control over the occupied rear. Mashovets also noted that the Russian Guard may have deployed up to 6,000 troops from the Russian Federation to the occupied part of Ukraine as part of the deployment of the 116th Brigade. As a result, the number of Russian Guard personnel there has increased to 34.3 thousand.

The ISW emphasized that they cannot yet independently verify the number of Russian Guard troops deployed in Ukraine. However, they believe that Russia's recent efforts to legalize the access of this military unit to recruit volunteers, the Kremlin's approval of providing them with heavy equipment, and the basing of the 116th Brigade in the occupied part of Donetsk region are indicators that Russia is trying to expand the Russian Guard and create a separate occupation force from it.

"Moscow is probably trying to recruit and deploy them to further impede Ukraine's counteroffensive efforts, establish permanent control over the occupied territories and suppress guerrilla activity, while not locking in advanced troops for occupation service indefinitely," the analysts concluded.

As reported by OBOZ.UA, in October, the Wagner group was transferred to the Russian Guard, and the PMC mercenaries announced their return to the front. According to media reports, after the death of Wagner's leader Yevgeny Prygozhyn, his son Pavel Prygozhyn took over the private military company.

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