The Winter Guard formed as an amalgamation of two pre-existing Russian super-teams: the People's Protectorate and the Siberforce. Originally, the Winter Guard was a general collection of Russia's heroes. The group later reorganized with a new public face as iconic, invincible heroes. Based around a set of four heroic identities of Red Guardian, Ursa Major, Darkstar and Crimson Dynamo, the Winter Guard secretly used replacement heroes whenever one of their four was killed or otherwise removed from the roster, keeping the roster publically unified and unchanging.
Other members unrelated to the X-Men include Steel Guardian, Fantasma, Vostok, Perun, Powersurge, Starlight, Red Widow, Chernobog, and several iterations of the Red Guardian, Darkstar, and Crimson Dynamo.