I’ve been wanting to link to this for a while. Igor Torbakov has a really interesting analysis in Utrikesmagasinet about the possible meaning of the restructuring of the domestic forces into the Federal National Guard Service, Rosgvardiya.
According to Torbakov the motivation can be found in this:
“Western politicians do not understand the essence of Russia and its basic principles,” lamented Vyacheslav Volodin, Putin’s deputy chief of staff, in his remarks at one of the closed sessions of the Valdai Club, a discussion platform bringing together Russia’s top policymakers and Western opinion makers, in late October 2014. The thing is, he went on, that Russian people perceive Western criticism of Russian president as a direct attack against their country. Volodin concluded his presentation with a seemingly preposterous suggestion: “If there’s Putin there’s Russia. If there’s no Putin there’s no Russia.”
No matter how ridiculous this statement appears to be, it would be unwise to simply dismiss it as a farcical effort on the part of a Kremlin courtier to suck up to his boss. It would appear that Volodin’s political imaginary whereby Putin is cast as a physical embodiment of Russia is shared widely among the broad segments of Russian policy elite. More important, it seems to be shared by President Putin himself who came to see his own destiny and that of Russia as tightly intertwined.
Torbakov’s point is that Rosgvardiya was created to protect the current leadership of Russia against internal uprising. That means that the biggest force in Russia is today directed at controlling its own people in case of a color revolution. If that is the case, is seems that the key to understanding Russia is that they don’t see much difference between foreign enemies of Russia and domestic opponents of Putin.