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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.

US troops deployed to western Ukraine in Spring 2015 to train the Ukrainian National Guard. The training was set to take place at the Yavoriv Training Area near the city of L'viv, although the exact number of troops taking part was not initially 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.

The United States would deploy personnel in early March to train the Ukrainian national guard, US 173rd Airborne Brigade Commander Colonel Michael Foster said. “Before this week is up, we’ll be deploying a battalion minus… to the Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces for the fight that’s taking place,” Foster stated. “What we’ve got laid out is six United States companies that will be training six Ukrainian companies throughout the summer.” The training will take place at the level of US and Ukrainian national guard companies, Foster explained, adding that “we have nothing above battalion staff level” engaged in the military training.

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