Russian Security and Paramilitary Forces since 1991

Russian Security and Paramilitary Forces since 1991 cover


Whilst under Putin's regime the size of Russia's regular forces has shrunk recently and will continue to do so, its security and paramilitary elements have become increasingly powerful. In fact, recently they have proliferated - as have their special uniforms and kit - and have become disproportionately important, spearheading all recent operations. They seem set to remain Russia's most active armed agencies for the immediate future. In parallel, within the murky world where government and private interests intersect, a number of paramilitary 'private armies' operate almost as vigilantes, with government toleration or approval.

This book offers a succinct overview of the official, semi-official and unofficial agencies that pursue Russian government and quasi-government objectives by armed means, from the 200,000-strong Interior Troops, through Police and other independent departmental forces, down to private security firms (in Moscow alone, the largest four security companies have c. 8,000 armed operatives). While some elements have been created in response to real challenges from terrorism and organized crime, other special groups owe more to 'bureaucratic warlordism' in other Ministries.

Most visibly, several government agencies have been heavily involved in the wars in Chechnya and elsewhere in the Caucasus. This conflict has spread, requiring counter-terrorist operations both there and inside Russia by the Interior Troops and the Federal Security Service (ex-KGB). Counter-terrorist defence is also provided by a Presidential Security Service. Simultaneously, the long fight against the 'Mafiya' has given birth to special Police and other Justice Ministry units. At the fringes of such activities are parachute-trained combat medics, disaster-relief and fire-fighting officers of the Ministry of Emergency Situations. In the face of lawlessness born in the chaotic years of Boris Yeltsin's reign in the 1990s, there has also been a toleration of armed civilian vigilante groups in the Caucasus and Russian Far East, with the reappearance of Cossack patrols and other groups, which are provided at a community level with arms and uniforms in return for taking over local security.

Featuring rare photographs, and detailed color plates of uniforms, insignia and equipment, Mark Galeotti, a renowned authority, explores the Putin regime's shadowy special-forces apparatus, active in an array of counter-terrorist and counter-mafia wars since 1991.

Table of Contents

Historical overview of Russian security and paramilitary forces, including their part in the failed coup against Gorbachev in 1991, the successful take-over by Yeltsin in 1993, and the rise of Putin
The Police:
Roles, organization and equipment, OMON riot police, SOBR and OMSN snatch squads, and the fight against the Mafiya
The Interior Troops (VV):
Roles, organization and equipment, VV Spetsnaz, Vega, ODON, MVD, and the war in Chechnya
The FSB: commando units Al'fa, Vympel, Zenit, etc., and FSB control of Border Troops
'Warlords in Suits':
Independent ministerial forces, Federal Protection Service, Justice Ministry, Ministry of Emergency Situations
Guns for the Masses:
Private security firms and vigilante forces
The Opposition:
Anti-Moscow organizations in the North Caucasus
Tools of the Trade:
Special weapons and equipment
Select bibliography
Plate commentaries

Product details

Published Aug 20 2013
Format Paperback
Edition 1st
Extent 64
ISBN 9781780961057
Imprint Osprey Publishing
Illustrations Fully illustrated with photographs and specially commissioned artwork
Dimensions 10 x 7 inches
Series Elite
Short code ELI
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing

About the contributors


Mark Galeotti

Mark Galeotti is a scholar of Russian security aff…


Johnny Shumate

Johnny Shumate works as a freelance illustrator li…


Discover More

Visit our exclusive member's website to see artwork, maps, and more from this book.


Book Vote

Tell us what titles you would like to see published by Osprey, then vote for your favourites in our monthly book vote!

Related Titles

Sign up for Osprey membership for access to thousands of plane profiles, maps, battle scenes and more. Plus up to 30% off website purchases

Free US delivery on orders $35 or over