Putin is forming mysterious private armies across Russia to protect himself from Wagner soldiers, report says

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  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is forming private militias across Russia.

  • They appear to be a defense against a possible coup against the Russian leader.

  • The Wagner Group rebellion, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, exposed serious gaps in Putin's defenses.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is forming a network of mysterious private military companies across Russia to protect himself from another Wagner uprising.

The plans for the private military companies, or "special enterprises," were noted in a new bill that raises the draft age for the Russian military.

The move is aimed at countering sabotage and internal threats, according to a statement by Duma defense committee chairman Andrey Kartapolov. 

The Daily Beast first reported on the amendments.

It comes weeks after the mutiny by Russia's Wagner mercenary group, which exposed gaps in Putin's defenses.

Fighters from the group met little resistance when they seized control of the city of Rostov-on-Don on June 23, then advanced on Moscow before rebel leaders brokered a deal with the Kremlin and halted the mutiny.

Though Putin has not punished Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the mutiny, he has launched a search for suspected traitors in the Russian military and appears to be fearful of future internal threats to his power.

According to the report, Putin's militias would be under the command of regional governors, operate at Putin's behest, and would be armed by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The Barents Observer, a Norwegian outlet, said the units' job is to" protect the state border, fight illegal armed groups and combat foreign sabotage and intelligence formations," as well as quashing internal threats.

The way the militias will interact with other branches of the military and intelligence apparatus isn't immediately clear. Russia already has a national guard, and Putin is protected by layers of security.

Nikolai Sokov, a former Kremlin official, told The Daily Beast the law was aimed at shoring up Putin's defenses.

"They are a tool to enhance security [important given very active clandestine actions by Ukrainian military intelligence], and can, as necessary, help against any new mutiny," said Sokov.

Another core function of the militias will be to defend against internal attacks in the wake of a series of Ukrainian drone strikes on Russian cities.

Russia's faltering invasion of Ukraine has exposed that Putin's grip on power may not be as firm as was widely believed, and former intelligence officials told Insider that further serious setbacks in Ukraine could result in Putin being removed from power.

Read the original article on Business Insider