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Ukrainian National Guard

As the crisis heated up in eastern Ukraine, the country worked to recruit and mobilize local, regional militias to boost the under-powered armed forces. Semyon Semyonchenko, the commander of the Donbas volunteer militia, said, “We are looking for men who are first of all ready to die for their motherland, in case of need, better to avoid it, but this readiness to fulfill their duty until the end is what distinguishes a soldier from the quitter who just drops his weapon and runs away.”

With some 40,000 volunteers said to be coming forward to join a proposed new National Guard, Ukraine's new pro-Western authorities took tentative steps towards overhauling a military outgunned and outmanned by Russia. "It's necessary to create the National Guard on the basis of the Ukrainian Troops, whose purpose will be to protect the country and citizens against all criminals, external and internal aggression. It's necessary to announce partial mobilization into the National Guard and the Armed Forces of Ukraine," Turchinov said during a morning plenary meeting of parliament on 11 March 2014.

The National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine (NSDC) decided to establish the National Guard on the basis of the Interior Troops. On 12 March 2014 parliament considered a bill to create a 33,000-strong force. Initiated by Acting President Oleksander Turchinov, the bill tasked the guard with maintaining public order, protecting sites like nuclear power plants and “upholding the constitutional order and restoring the activity of state bodies”.

The personnel of the National Guard of Ukraine might include 45,000-50,000 people, according to the MP, former Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk. "The actual number of the personnel in the National Guard of Ukraine might amount to 45,000-50,000 people," he told journalists. In addition, former Defense Minister of Ukraine explained, "My vision is that the foundation [of the guard] should be reserve officers and the military basis of the Interior troops, who are the most battle-worthy."

Ukraine's parliament voted 13 March 2014 to create a 60,000-strong National Guard as a step to strengthen defense. The move, supported by 262 parliamentarians, basically recreates the Guard Ukraine used to have back from 1991 to 2000. The new National Guard would be created on the basis of internal troops.

The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, adopted a resolution appointing Stepan Poltorak as commander of the National Guard of Ukraine. A total of 235 deputies voted for a respective decision on 15 April 2014. Major General Poltorak is a native of Odesa region. He has been in the military service since 1983. From March 2002, he served as head of the Academy of Interior Troops of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.

Despite the 13 March 2014 authorization of a 60,000-strong National Guard and reports of 40,000 volunteers eager to join, the actual results a few months later were a tenth these numbers.

In April 2014 the head of MIA Avakov AB decided to form a volunteer corps of special forces of public order - special police patrol battalions (PSMOP) - for protection of public order. As of 16 June according to the information Arsen Avakov areas in Ukraine zformovano 30 regional special forces PSMOP planned number of 5,660 people, of which about 3,000 people were serving. These are not to be confused with territorial defense battalions of Ukraine.

The National Guard of Ukraine itself does not have any volunteer battalions. There are newly formed battalions for operation purposes which have been brought up to strength with reservists. As the National Guard of Ukraine itself has no “volunteer battalions”, volunteers are attached to units in the National Guard. “Donbass” battalion has a special status – it is a battalion for operation purposes, and its servicemen sign contracts to join the military reserve of the National Guard of Ukraine.

On 05 April 2014, the first volunteer battalion operational purpose of the National Guard of Ukraine (1 BOP NSU) was formed with an oath of allegiance to Ukraine. Five hundred guards aged from 18 to 55 years had earlier trained for three weeks through a special military training. The first battalion of the National Guard, formed of the Maidan volunteers, left for the east of Ukraine on 15 April 2014. NSDC Secretary Andriy Parubiy wrote: "The first battalion of the National Guard, formed of volunteers of the Maidan's Self-Defense, left for the front. Fighters have high morale and readiness to defend Ukraine. It is very difficult. I know since I have only recently returned from Luhansk, where I spent the whole week. But I'm sure that we shall win because God is with us and Ukraine."

In May and June 2014, with reservists NGU was additionally formed three volunteer battalions National Guard operational purpose (BOP NGU). On 27 May 2014, Deputy Interior Minister Sergei Spring reported that the Ministry of the Interior had launched a third battalion of the National Guard. National security and Defense Council Secretary Andrey Parubiy said the second battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine already had military posts around Slavyansk (Donetsk region). The National Guard of Ukraine started forming the fourth reserve battalion, Deputy Commander of the National Guard, Maj.-Gen. Alexander Krivenko, said at a press briefing of the National Guard 19 June 2014. According to him, the third battalion at that time was finalizing work at the training centre of the National Guard.

Ukroboronprom's Kyiv armored vehicles plant passed five APCs BTR-3E to the National Guard of Ukraine on 25 June 2014. The field testing of APCs BTR-3E began at the training center the National Guard on 26 June 2014. These formed a modernized Brigade of the National Guard of a new type. On 27 July 2014, at the training center in the zone of the ATO the first Brigade of the National Guard of a new type and new weapons was activated. The outfit is fundamentally different from what it was before. This is the first Brigade of the National Guard [Nacgvardii], which had its own modern vehicles and artillery. The Brigade had armored "Kuguar», equipped with automatic grenade launchers, with a crew of 8 axels; "Spartan" armored vehicles with machine guns and 4-Ma PTRM "Le CORSAIRE" for fighting with tanks and BMPs; "Dozor-b" armored car equipped with machine guns; and some BTR-3E1. The Brigade also was strengthened with T64 tanks.

In August 2014 it was reported that the National Guard of Ukraine will receive an Armored "Joker," an APC for destroying enemy tanks. There is a video on the web which shows the testing of advanced APC for the National Guard of Ukraine. A "Joker" is can easily destroy enemy tank. The Ukrainian National Guard Regiment in Kalinosky launched a modernization program for its fleet of BTR-80 8x8 armoured personnel carrier, called the "Joker". A BTR-80 was upgraded with new armour protection using slat armour system and the turret is fitted with four SPG-9M recoilless guns.

The National Guard received new armored vehicles Cougar KRAZ. This was stated by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov on 26 July 2014. "KRAZ Cougars. New equipment of the National Guard of Ukraine. Starting today the weapon of the newly created operational brigade. Building up the strength! Our Strength is peace for Ukraine," he wrote. The first cars were transferred to the National Guard base in Novi Petrivtsi. KRAZ Cougar is an all-wheel drive armored vehicle designed for urban combat, developed by Canadian Streit Group on the nasis of Toyota chassis. It can be fitted with various types of combat modules and towers, armed with a 7.62 mm or 12.7-mm machine gun or 40-mm automatic grenade launcher. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Turchynov visited the first operational brigade of the Ukrainian National Guard and got acquainted with the samples of the vehicles in service and talked to the staff.

The only Ukrainian manufacturer of heavy trucks AvtoKrAZ (Kremenchuk) has produced 733 vehicles in January-August, which is 38.8% more than in the same period the previous year. The National Guard of Ukraine ordered 370 vehicles for around UAH 361 mn from AvtoKrAZ until the end of 2014.

“AutoKrAZ” provides the KrAZ-Spartan vehicles with new Ford and Toyota engines at the request of the National Guard. The KrAZ-Spartan armored vehicle is equipped with turbocharged diesel V8 engine rated at 300hp at 2 800 RPM from Ford. Engine displacement is 6.7l. The KrAZ–Cougar armored vehicle is provided with 4.0l engine. This is a V6 petrol engine rated at 218hp at 4,600 RPM. Engines from these world known manufacturers reliable and trouble-free in operation, engine start is guaranteed under any extreme weather conditions. Good engine performance and high engine torque ensure high mobility and excellent dynamics.

Ukrainian soldiers battling separatists in the country's east have converted a Russian-made army truck into a bullet-proof armored vehicle. They used thick metal sheets to reinforce the driver's cab and the sides of the Ural off-road truck, which also carries an automatic grenade launcher.

One of the biggest problems for Ukrainian forces in the ATO remained transporting wounded soldiers out of the combat zone in order to receive immediate medical treatment. Pro-Russian militants often target Ukrainian transport vehicles, which threatens wounded soldiers and medical personnel. The Donbas Battalion requires armored vans, which can protect the transportation of wounded soldiers and provide a safe space for medical procedures and minor surgeries. “About 50% of wounded who died, could have been saved if they had professional help immediately” and “transportation to the Green Zone,” said Viacheslav Vlasenko, the Chief of Staff of the Donbas Battalion.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church- Kyiv Patriarchate and the Donbas Battalion are cooperating to help wounded Ukrainian forces receive the protection and first aid medical services that they need on the battlefield. This was stated by representatives of the Donbas Battalion and Yevstrartiy (Zorya), the Archbishop of Chernihiv and Nizhyn, at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Archbishop Yevstrartiy explained that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is trying to get support for the Battalion from the National Bank of Ukraine, which has access to armored vans and other vehicles. In addition, the church is writing letters to other Ukrainian banks and calling on wealthy individuals to assist the battalion. It costs roughly 600,000 Ukrainian hryvnia to acquire a vehicle and equip the van with the necessary medical equipment.

US troops are going to be deployed to western Ukraine in Spring 2015 to train the Ukrainian National Guard. The training is set to take place at the Yavoriv Training Area near the city of L'viv, although the exact number of troops taking part is yet to be confirmed. The training is part of US State Department efforts "to assist Ukraine in strengthening its law enforcement capabilities, conduct internal defense, and maintain rule of law." The US had earmarked $19 million of funding in from its Global Security Contingency Fund, to help train and equip soldiers.

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