UK Defense Ministry: Russia's top proxy in Crimea likely concerned about the military's ability to defend it

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Russia-installed proxy in occupied Crimea Sergei Aksyonov is likely concerned about the ability of the regular forces to defend the peninsula in case of a Ukrainian counteroffensive, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on May 26.

Russia's 22nd Army Corps, responsible for Crimea’s defense, has been mostly deployed outside of the peninsula and has taken heavy casualties, according to the report.

The U.K. Defense Ministry said that Aksyonov, installed by Moscow in 2014, set up a number of paramilitary groups in Crimea affiliated with the tradition of Cossacks. "Most have been given some semi-official status as reserve units of the regular army," the ministry said.

While Russia has experienced growth of paramilitary groups for the past 20 years, the invasion of Ukraine has sharply accelerated the process, with Ukraine's occupied Crimea becoming an important focal point, the U.K. Defense Ministry added.

With heavy losses among the Russian regular armed forces, the Kremlin is increasingly dependent on paramilitary troops, such as the Wagner mercenary group.