Russian Guards


Russian Guards

Guards (Russian: гвардия) or Guards units ( _ru. гвардейские части, "gvardeyskiye chasti") were and are elite military units in Imperial Russia, Soviet Union and the Russian Federation. The tradition goes back to the retinue of a knyaz (his "druzhina") of medieval Kievan Rus' and the streltsy, the Muscovite harquebusiers formed by Ivan the Terrible by 1550. The exact meaning of the term "Guards" varied over the time.

Imperial Russian Guard

In the Russian Empire, Imperial Russian Guard units ("Leib-Guards", _ru. лейб-гвардия, "leyb-gvardiya") derived from German 'Leibwaechter' (life-guards), and were intended to provide for the security of the sovereign, initially that of Peter the Great in 1690s based on the Prussian practice. At the beginning of the twentieth century it consisted of 13 infantry, 4 rifles and 14 cavalry regiments and some other units. They were abolished in 1918.

The Imperial Russian Guard units did not consist exclusively of troops recruited from Russian population, but also included Lithuanian, Finnish and Ukrainian personnel.

Russian Revolution

The Red Guards ( _ru. "Krasnaya Gvardiya") were armed groups of workers formed during the Russian Revolution of 1917. They were the main strike force of the Bolsheviks, and were created in March 1917 at industrial enterprises by Factory and Plant Committees and by Bolshevik party cells. When the Soviet Red Army was formed in 1918, the Red Guards became the Army Reserve and the basis for the formation of regular military detachments.

The White Guard ( _ru. "Belaya Gvardiya") or White Army ( _ru. "Belaya Armiya", whose members were called _ru. "belogvardeytsy"), comprised both the political and military forces of the Russian White Movement, which opposed the Bolsheviks after the October Revolution and fought against the Red Army during the Russian Civil War from 1918 to 1921.

Soviet Guards

The Guards units ( _ru. Гвардия, "Gvardiya") were again awarded to units and formations which distinguishing themselves in during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 by the order of People's Commissar for Defence of USSR No.303 on the 18 September 1941, and were considered to have elite status. However, the Guards badge was not introduced until 21 May 1943.

Guards after Soviet Union

The Guards distinction was retained as designations of units and formations in the armed forces of the former Soviet Union: Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine.


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