Russia’s 300K-Strong Paramilitary Police Says Holding Massive Exercise That Will See It Moved by Road, Rail and Air
Nothing to see here, Russia is just holding all exercises at once
In early February Russians started seeing a lot of Rosgvardia paramilitary police activity, especially convoys, in western Russia.
But authorities have reassured them this is nothing out of the ordinary. Rosgvardia is simply holding its annual “Zaslon” exercise early:
The National Guard is preparing to conduct operational-strategic exercises Zaslon-2022 in all districts: these are annual exercises that are held on a planned basis. On Thursday, February 3, “Lenta.ru” was told by the official representative of the Russian Guard Valery Gribakin .
Earlier, a number of media reported that residents of several border regions of the country drew attention to convoys with military equipment of Rosgvardia.
“The transfer of forces and means to the areas of practical training will be carried out from different districts of the Russian Guard troops both by military aviation, and by road and rail,” Gribakin said.
Zaslon-2021 was held in July, but Zaslon-2022 has been inexplicitly brought forward to February and coincides with:
— A massive military exercise in Belarus conducted overwhelmingly by units from the Eastern Military District responsible for the Far East and the Pacific Coast. The exercise was announced just 14 days before it was to start and is taking place just 4 months after the equally massive biennial Russian-Belarusian “Zapad” exercise had concluded.
— Massive naval drills involving 140 combat and supply ships and every Fleet of the Russian Navy, but apparently with many of the landing ships and missile cruisers converging on the Eastern Mediterranean
— A situation where numerous units from the Northern and Central Military Districts have their heavy equipment parked in the south-west of the country, within 200 kilometers of Ukraine
Alright then. Just a “routine” exercise then. Coincidentally brought forward to a moment when a bunch of other stuff is happening, and it’s all focused on the south-western direction.
Rosgvardia says the exercise will involve guardsmen from all of its districts and will involve transport by rail and air, implying they will be transported over long distances. Transported to where? Since heightened Rosgvardia activity was first observed in the west of the country is it fair to assume that is the main destination?
In a worrying development, we and other researchers have observed vehicles characteristic of Russia's National Guard Troops and possibly riot police (both part of the same umbrella organization "Rosgvardia") moving on roads and trains across European Russia. pic.twitter.com/88QH7tB6OE
— CIT (en) (@CITeam_en) February 2, 2022
“Zaslon” means screen or barrier. It often means a barrier in the sense of preventing something from being seen. The Rosgvardia are armed as light infantry motorized by truck and armored car, but they act as security troops, manning checkpoints and guarding facilities. They would be crucial to maintaining operational security and turning curious eyes away.