In the Russian military tradition 'guards' is a honorific for units which distinguish themselves in some way in the field
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree awarding Guards status to three military formations: the 11th and 83rd Separate Assault Landing Brigades of the Airborne Forces, and the 38th Separate Signals Regiment.
"For mass heroism and bravery, tenacity and courage, displayed by the troops of the brigade during combat operations in the defense of the Motherland and its national interests under conditions of an armed conflict, and in recognition of their contributions during peace time, I resolve: to award the 83rd Separate Assault Landing Brigade the honorific 'Guards', which will heretofore be referred to as the 83rd Guards Separate Assault-Landing Brigade," reads the decree’s text. Similar decrees were issued for the 11th Brigade and the 38th Regiment.
The decrees do not reveal the locations and dates of combat operations which earned these units the Guards status. There are no open-source accounts about the participation of these units in combat operations in which they could display mass heroism. It is known that the 83rd Brigade took part in the First Chechen Campaign of 1994-1996. The 38th Regiment participated in both Chechen campaigns. There have been no announcements of these units’ participation in combat operations since the end of the Chechna counter-terrorism operation.
Translator's comment: These are almost certainly the "little green men" of Crimea fame, who were air- and helicopter-lifted into Crimea to join the Naval Infantry units already there. Note that the decree does not say they participated in an armed conflict, but rather performed operations "under conditions of an armed conflict", which the intervention in Crimea most certainly was. They carried live ammunition with them, and there was no telling what the final outcome of confronting 20 thousand-strong UAF force would be. The signals regiment’s role was to maintain secure communications during the planning and implementation of the operation in such a way as to avoid tipping of NATO as to what was coming — no mean feat under the conditions of ubiquitous NSA snooping.