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Russian drone unit recruits Kremlin elite and protects them from war, British intelligence says

  • A military unit called “Bars Kaskad” is recruiting Russia’s elite, the British Ministry of Defense said.
  • The unit is primarily involved in drone operations away from the front lines in Ukraine.
  • This likely allows recruits to “bypass” the usual requirements of the service “with guaranteed security,” the Defense Ministry said.

A special Russian military unit is recruiting Russian elites, the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) said in a statement. job on X, formerly Twitter.

According to the department, the unit, called “Bars Kaskad,” was created by the Russian State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, and includes an “unusually high” number of members of the pro-Putin United Russia party and of sons of Kremlin elites — “up to 10 in total.”

The unit is primarily involved in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations far from the front lines in Ukraine, likely allowing Russian figures to “bypass the usual requirements of military service with guaranteed security”, the Ministry of Defense said. defense.

It is also believed that members of the squadron have bodyguards.

Sitting in the back and drinking tea


Ukrainian soldiers display downed Russian drone at press conference.

Ukrainian soldiers display downed Russian drone at press conference.

SERGÉI SUPINSKI/AFP via Getty Images



Some analysts believe Russian officials see the unit as a way to exploit advertising opportunities.

“Kaskad is specially created for all sorts of famous personalities and officials who seek to publicly demonstrate that they went to war and defended their country,” Ruslan Leviev, a military analyst with the Conflict Intelligence Team, told the Guardian.

“You sit somewhere in the back, drink tea, come back with a medal and titles and continue to build your political career as a participant in the war,” he added.

The unit, active since around October 2022, rose to prominence in April after it was revealed that the husband of Russian influencer Yelena Blinovskaya had enlisted to try to keep her from going to prison for tax evasion.

Alexei Blinovsky was photographed serving with Bars Kaskad on April 16, according to the Defense Ministry.

While thousands of Russian prisoners have joined Vladimir Putin’s forces in an effort to atone for their crimes and secure their freedom, Blinovsky’s case is believed to be the first time someone enlisted in the war to help a family member avoid prison.

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