The British Defense Ministry said this in its intelligence update published on Twitter, according to Ukrinform.
It is noted that over at least the last 20 years, Russia has experienced a proliferation of paramilitary groups out of its regular armed forces. However, this “paramilitarisation” has dramatically accelerated since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and is particularly important in the Crimean Peninsula.
“The leader of Russian-occupied Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, has been instrumental in setting up several local units, which often claim affiliation with the Cossack tradition. Most have been given some semi-official status as reserve units of the regular army,” the report says.
According the British intelligence, Aksyonov is likely keen to burnish his patriotic credentials by recruiting fighters, but he is likely also concerned about the regular army’s ability to defend the peninsula.
“The main element of the Russian garrison, 22nd Army Corps, is currently mostly deployed outside the peninsula and has taken heavy casualties,” the British intelligence said.
As reported by Ukrinform, the Kremlin-appointed "head" of temporarily occupied Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, established his own private military company "Convoy" on the peninsula, which is managed by Konstantin Pikalov, the right hand man of the founder of Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin.