Richard Arnold writes: In a further sign of the rising importance of Cossack neo-imperial structures in Russia’s current political system, apparently President Vladimir Putin recently expressed support for the idea of creating Cossack battalions within the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia). The presidential envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District, Yuri Chaika, claimed, during a Cossack youth meeting in Nalchik, that Putin supported his idea of creating separate units: “we think Cossack battalions will be created that are exclusively Cossack. They will be located where Cossacks live. This is our thought. It is difficult to say how we will implement it, but we will try to realize it.” Chaika reportedly floated the idea of attracting Cossacks into the ranks of Rosgvardia on June 24, proposing to induce members of the Terek Cossack Host (based around Stavropol) to join as a trial run (Meduza, July 10). However, after Chaika came out with his statement, the Kremlin stressed the absence of concrete plans to implement the scheme. Given that Chaika is a seasoned bureaucrat and unlikely to invent such an idea out of whole cloth, the most likely explanation is that one of the elements of the Presidential Administration gave the go ahead, assuming there would be no objection at the very top.
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