Ukrainian National Guard
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, has 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.
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."
With some 40,000 volunteers 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. 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”.
"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 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."
The backbone of the former Ukrainian National Guard was composed from the MVD Internal Troops plus a KGB division stationed near Kharkov. On 07 October 1991 the Presidium of Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers approved a package of draft laws concerning the creation during the next two years of a Ukrainian National Guard and army. The draft laws forsaw Ukraine's transformation, in accordance with the principles enshrined in the republic's Declaration of State Sovereignty, into a neutral state and a nuclear-free zone. It was envisaged that the size of the new Ukrainian army would not exceed 450,000 and that its role would be purely defensive.
Leonid Kravchuk reportedly received a letter from the USSR Ministry of the Interior condemning his parliament's decision to set up a national guard as "unconstitutional" and informing him that the issue would be raised at the next meeting of the USSR State Council. According to the same source in a November 2 report to the Ukrainian service of Radio Liberty, as of 01 November 1991 the USSR MVD cut off funding to its forces in Ukraine to protest the decision to form a Ukrainian national guard on the basis of existing MVD troops.
On 01 December 1991 a new nation emerged on the map of Europe. Ukraine's overwhelming vote in favor of independence and separation from the unraveling Soviet Union demolished the hope of reconstructing any kind of union with centralized institutions to govern the Soviet republics. Since the December 1 referendum, Ukraine moved quickly to establish the attributes of independent statehood. Customs officials and KGB border troops around Ukraine's western borders had for some time been sporting the blue and yellow colors of the new state. Ukraine's national guard grew in numbers, and the government moved decisively to establish Ukrainian control over all conventional military forces on Ukrainian territory.
In 1992 several days of celebrations of the first anniversary of the declaration of Ukraine's independence culminated on 24 August -- the actual anniversary -- with parades, rallies, cultural exhibitions and musical performances throughout the country. In Kiev, prayers for the newly independent state were led in the 11th century cathedral of St. Sophia by 94-year-old Ukrainian Orthodox Patriarch Mstyslav, who as a young Ukrainian soldier had witnessed the proclamation of Ukraine's short-lived independence in 1918. Among other highlights were the reopening after 175 years of the celebrated Kievan Mohyla Academy, a parade in the Ukrainian capital by the the newly formed Ukrainian National Guard and an open air rally.
Due to the street fights and separatist tensions in the Crimea, in April 1998 the Scorpion special forces battalion of the Ukrainian National Guard was moved permanently from Lvov to Sevastopol. Offices from the unit announced on local television that they were sent there "to instill law and order in the region and prevent bloodshed."
Ukrainian "crimson berets" cooperated with similar formations of other countries, such as the National Gendarmes of Argentine and France, Italy's Carabineri, Latvia's Guards ("Zemessardze"), National Guards of California and Kansas.
The California and Kansas National Guards formed a State Partnership with Ukraine. Training Years 1998 and 1999 proved to be exceptional years for this State Partnership Program. Excellent working relationships with the Ukrainian National Guard, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Emergencies were maintained, while including many other Ukrainian agencies such as the Ministry of Health and the Border Guards in SPP events. As a first step in the sister unit concept, twelve soldiers of the 35th Infantry Division, Kansas Army National Guard traveled to Simferopol, Ukraine, with their counterparts from the 7th Division, National Guard of Ukraine from 3 to 10 July, 1999. The soldiers from Kansas both observed and demonstrated leadership skills, small unit tasking, and weapons and vehicle familiarization. Throughout 1999, the 40th Infantry Division conducted a series of small unit and staff officer exchanges with the 93rd Motorized Rifle Division, Ministry of Defense and the 6th Division, National Guard of Ukraine.
After Colonel General Vasily Sobkov, Presidential General Military Inspection's Chief Inspector, completed a complex review of Ukraine's National Guard early in 1999, he stated that the Ukrainian National Guard would not be included in the country's Armed Forces. He emphasized that the expenditures on the National Guard would decrease by 66% if it became a part of the Armed Forces, especially taking into account the fact that during all the years of its existence the Guard had failed to create a reliable material base.
In the wake of administrative reform, Ukraine's military political leadership started out to reform the military organization in this country. A certain amount of attention was paid to all law enforcement structures. The National Guards, who long duplicated the functions performed by other law enforcement agencies, was disbanded. On 27 January 2000 Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma signed into law the Bill on the Disbandment of the National Guards of Ukraine that was previously approved by Verkhovna Rada, the presidential press service told CACDS. The Law took effect since the day of its official publication. Ukraine announced the disbandment of the Ukrainian National Guard by 1 July 2000. All material from the Guard was passed to the reserves of the Ministry of Defence or the Interior Ministry. There was no net increase in the armed forces.
The Novorossiysk-Kiev separate regiment of the Ukrainian president is a unique structure in the Ukrainian Land Forces. Earlier it was included in the Ukrainian national guard and when the guard was disbanded in December 1999 the regiment was transferred to the Land Forces. The regiment is considered to be the best in the Ukrainian Land Forces and the model of the country's armed forces of 2010 is being tested on it.
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