Russia’ Interior Ministry has reportedly created a new department to help enforce martial law.
The Main Directorate of Rapid Response will coordinate with the ministry’s forces if a state of emergency or counter-terrorism operation is declared in Russia, according to the state-owned news agency TASS.
It will also be charged with implementing measures for civil defense, handling reports on crime and administrative offenses and defending the ministry’s buildings.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to change the ministry’s structure due to the “requirements of the times,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
“Everything is quite obvious,” Peskov said, according to Interfax. “Any additional explanations are hardly needed here.”
Russian officials have been contacted for comment.
Putin has previously dismissed concerns that martial law could be introduced in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine in late February, which Moscow refers to as a “special military operation.”
But a top U.S. intelligence official recently warned that Putin is expected to become more unpredictable as the war rages on and could introduce martial law.
“The uncertain nature of the battle, which is developing into a war of attrition, combined with the reality that Putin faces a mismatch between his ambitions and Russia’s current conventional military capabilities likely means the next few months could see us moving along a more unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory,” Avril Haines, the director of National Intelligence, said during a Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing last month.
“At the very least, we believe the dichotomy will usher in a period of more ad hoc decision making in Russia, both with respect to the domestic adjustments required to sustain this push as well as the military conflict with Ukraine and the West.”
Haines said Putin could turn to “more drastic means” at home and abroad in order to achieve his strategic goals, including imposing martial law, reorienting industrial production and “potentially escalatory military actions” to free up the resources need to achieve his objectives.
In the wake of several setbacks during the war, which passed the 100-day mark last week, Russia has set its sights on the Donbas region.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that a “fierce” battle with Russian forces in Severodonetsk could determine the overall fate of the region.
“We are defending our positions and inflicting significant losses on the enemy,” Zelensky said. “This is a very fierce battle, very difficult, perhaps one of the hardest of this war … (in) many respects, the fate of the Donbas is being decided there.”