Ukrainian volunteer battalions: composition and prospects


March 20, 2015
Blogger Bmpd
Translated by Kristina Rus


Volunteer battalions defending Ukraine: who are they?

Most battalions have strict subordination to Ukrainian security forces and closely cooperate with the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine

Assault units of the National Guard of Ukraine:

  • Regiment (former battalion) “Azov” 
  • Battalion of Kulchinskogo
  • 2nd special purpose battalion “Donbass”

Special Purpose Battalions of Patrol Service of Police:

  • Kiev-1
  • Dnepr-1
  • Storm
  • Golden Gates [to heaven) – KR] 
  • Peacekeper (Mirotvorets)
  • Artemovsk
  • Saint Maria
  • Svityaz
  • +25 other battalions

Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

Territorial Defense Battalions:

  • Kievan Rus
  • Aidar
  • Chernigov-1
  • Batkivshina (Fatherland)
  • Krivbas
  • Dnepr-2
  • +38 other battalions

Armed Forces of Ukraine:

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  • Battalion “Phoenix” (3rd battalion of the 79th air-mobile brigade)
  • Battalion UNSO (54th recon-subversive battalion of the 30th mechanised brigade)

Coordinate their activities with the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Internal Affairs:

  • Volunteer Ukrainian Corps “The Right Sector”
  • Battalion OUN (Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists)

Another interesting infographic from Ukrainian propaganda resource shows the Ukrainian volunteer battalions as of March 2015 with the break down of their subordination. It should be noted that the actual head count of each battalion is very different, and a number of them, apparently, are no bigger then a company. Besides, some of these battalions (primarily subordinated to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine) are not a purely on a volunteer basis, and are partially comprised with mobilized troops.

The most part of the volunteer battalions remains outside the Armed Forces of Ukraine, subject to either the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine (on the rights of special purpose police), or the National Guard of Ukraine (also part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs). Thus, the main part of the most “ideological” composition of volunteer battalions either did not take any direct part in hostilities, or was involved sporadically. 

[Mainly terrorizing local population – KR]

In general, the number of volunteers enrolled in the Ukrainian volunteer battalions, is surprisingly limited, and, under the most objective estimate, in the year of the civil war in Ukraine did not exceed 10 thousand people (excluding foreigners) – with almost 40 million population, remaining under the control of Kiev. The militant resource of Ukrainian nationalism was seriously overrated. This, in particular, did not allow to turn the National Guard of Ukraine into the ideological-volunteer “revolutionary guard” of the  post-maidan regime, as it was intended at its creation, and NG for the most part remains “re-painted” Internal troops. In fact, even the DPR and LPR were able to attract a larger number of volunteers from among the population of the territories under their control, than the rest of Ukraine produced of the “Ukrainian patriots”. This factor significantly affects the overall combat readiness of the Ukrainian forces, equipped mostly of the mobilized force. 

Despite all the PR around the Ukrainian volunteer units (PR on both sides of the front), the volunteers had a fairly limited impact on the course of hostilities, and practically the whole burden of the war was carried (and will be carried) by the armed forces of Ukraine.

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