Ukrainian Special Operations Forces (UASOF)

Forces d'opérations spéciales ukrainiennes (UASOF) - Phil Team

The Ukrainian Special Operations Forces (UASOF) is a special operations command and one of the five branches of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Born and based in Kyiv in 2017. Additionally, UAFAF are often tasked with dangerous and politically sensitive operations, which other regular units would not be able to carry out.

Currency of UASOF is "I'm coming to you!" (Іду на ви! in Ukrainian) and is of Sviatoslav the Brave, a Grand Prince of kyiv in 10th century. Known for his bravery, Svyatoslav managed to defeat large armies and extend his rule.

I' emblem special operations forces depicts a silver wolf with a golden belt. Behind the wolf, there is a crown of silver leaves. The motto is inscribed on a golden ribbon under the crown.

Ukrainian Special Operations Forces (SSO)
UASOF emblem

1. History of Ukrainian special operations forces

The Special Forces Command was founded from remnant units of the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate (HUR), which were originally formed from the Ukraine-based Soviet GRU Spetsnaz (then Ukrainian SSR).

In 2007 , then Defense Minister Hrytsenko issued a document describing the creation of the special operations forces. The UASOF office and training center was officially formed and training with US special forces began.

However, in 2011, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense decided to disband special operations.

At the beginning of 2014, during the Crimean crisis, most Ukrainian military units were already deployed around the world, such as in Kosovo and Somalia. Therefore, the government decided to call the Ukrainian forces Spetsnaz. These forces were inherited from the Soviet Armed Forces and were the only ones at the time capable of defending Ukraine.

During this period, Ukrainian Spetsnaz forces were able to neutralize terrorist cells and clean up cities captured by the enemy.

In September 2014 , due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, especially Crimea, and the threat posed by Russia, Ukrainian President Poroshenko decided to speed up the process to form the UASOF again.

In order to accomplish this task, the First Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff of the Airborne Forces of Ukraine, Sergei Krivonos , was appointed head of the special operations directorate of the General Staff of Ukraine. By the end of 2014, the unit was ready, with around 4,000 officers.

1.1. A new chapter for UASOF

In April 2015 , the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine made the decision to entrust control of the UASOF to the Ministry of Defense. Therefore, the MoD decided to dismantle and restore the unit.

A new concept for special operations forces was provided in the Ukraine Strategic Defense Bulletin on 5 January 2016 .

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense then appointed Major General Igor Lunvov as commander of the UASOF and Krivonos as first deputy commander. After the first 29 recruits got their training diploma UASOF , President Poroshenko decided to establish Special Operations Forces Day on 29 July.

Three years later, on the 24 June 2019, the 140 e Center Special Operations Forces, a UASOF unit, became eligible to join the United Nations Response Force NATO ( NRF ). The NRF is a multinational force made up of air, land, sea and special forces units. Its main characteristics are its wide availability and its technological advance.

For the first time, a non-NATO unit has been certified as a Special Operations Forces (SOF) unit.

Operators of 140th Special Operations Forces Center during NATO Exercise Flaming Sword 2018

That same year, the Department of Defense decided to implement a new Information and Psychological Operations course, to add skills to UASOF operators.

Due to the recent russian invasion of Ukraine , the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense increased the number of Special Operations Forces operators, adding 1,000 personnel. The current number of members of UASOF is about 3000.

2. Structure of UASOF

In 2015, the structure of UASOF has profoundly changed and expanded.

THE special operations forces are divided into:

Special Operations Forces Command, based in Berdychiv, Zhytomyr region

  • 99th battalion command and support
  • 142nd Center education and training

Ground warfare and special units

  • 3 e special regiment “Prince Svetoslav the Brave”, based in Kropyvnytskyi, Kirovograd region. The unit was formed based on the 10 e Soviet special brigade.
  • The 8th Special Regiment "Iziaslav Mstislavich", formed on the basis of the Soviet 8th Brigade To special purpose, is based in Khmelnitsky, Khmelnitsky region.
  • 140th Special Operations Forces Center, based in Khmelnitsky, Khmelnitsky. It is the most elite unit of the UASOF and it also took part in the hostilities in the Donbass in 2014.

The tasks of these three units are special reconnaissance missions and direct action operations.

special unit aviation

  • 35th Mixed Aviation Squadron, based at Havryshiyka Air Base, Vinnytsia Region. This unit is subordinate to the 456 e Transport Aviation Brigade of the Ukrainian Air Force.

Created in 2019, this unit is mainly involved in the extraction, resupply and rescue of small unit teams in Ukraine.

naval special unit

73rd Frogman during training
  • The 73 e Maritime Special Operations Center, inspired by the 17 e Soviet special naval brigade, is based on the island of Pervomaisky, in the Mykolaiv region.

This unit focuses on maintaining security in the Black Sea as well as maritime counter-terrorism missions.

Information and psychological warfare units

  • 16th Center for Information Warfare and Psychological Operations, based in Huiva, region of Zhytomyr

  • 72nd center of information warfare and psychological operations, based in Brovary, Kyiv region

  • 74th Center of information warfare and psychological operations, based in Lviv

  • 83rd center information warfare and psychological operations, based in Odessa

3. Responsibilities of Special Operations Forces

There defense law of the Ukrainian government defines a special operation as a set of interconnected and coordinated special actions. These actions involve both the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces (UASOF) and the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

THE UASOF tasks include:

  • Participate in raids behind enemy lines
  • Information Collection
  • Building an intelligence network
  • Carry out counter-terrorism activities
  • Ability to search and evacuate hostages or prisoners
  • Cooperation with international special forces units
  • Performing psychological operations
  • Spying
  • Participate in operations aimed at combating drug and arms trafficking
  • Training of foreign police and armies

4. UUSAF training

The Special Operations Forces Training Center is based in Khmelnitsky and this is where recruits go through the UASOF qualification center. The selection course, also funded by the United States, was developed with NATO partners from Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia .

THE requirements to access the selection course are extremely high and only 10% of candidates are usually selected.

The training program lasts five weeks and each week is characterized by rigorous training and tough tests aimed at bringing down the weakest recruits.

Week 1

  • Swim 100m
  • Run 3 km with an average pace of 5 minutes per km
  • 16km walk in less than three hours with a 14kg backpack
  • A test of general physical training such as push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups

Week 2

  • 50 squats carrying a 16 kg backpack
  • Run 8 km with an average pace of 5 minutes per km
  • 13km loaded walk in less than two hours, carrying a 16kg backpack

Week 3

  • Series of push-ups and pull-ups
  • 50 squats with an 18kg backpack
  • Run 10km with an average pace of 4'20'' per km
  • 19km loaded walk in less than four hours with an 18kg backpack

Week 4

  • Series of push-ups and pull-ups
  • 50 squats with a 23kg backpack
  • Run 10km with an average pace of 4'20'' per km
  • 29km loaded walk in less than 4h45 with a 23kg backpack

Week 5

  • Swim 500m
  • Run 5km with an average pace of 3'45'' per km
  • 29km busy walk in less than 4h30 with a 23km backpack

After having ended the selection course, UASOF training focuses on heavy weapons, combat medicine, intelligence gathering, mountain warfare, military freefall, and combat engineering.

operators35th Mixed Aviation Squadron of the Picture courtesy of UASOF

5. UASOF Weapons and Equipment

Special Operations Forces units are equipped with a variety of weapons, notably:

Semi-automatic pistols

  • Glock 17
  • Glock 19
  • Beretta M9
  • Stechkin APS
  • Makarov PM

Automatic Rifles

  • AKS-74U
  • AK-74 (Fab Defense and Crook furniture, SRVV sling, Magpul FG, PEQ-15, Trijicon ACOG, EOTech and Aimpoint optics)
  • Strong 221
  • IPI Malyuk
  • UAR-15
  • FN M4A1


  • Fort 301 as a sniper rifle
  • Barrett M82A3 as a sniper rifle
  • Strong 401
  • PKM light machine gun
  • FGM-148 Javelin
  • RPG-22
  • RPG-26
  • FIM-92 Stinger
  • RPG-18
  • RPG-30
  • RPG-28
  • AT 4 O'CLOCK
  • UAR-10
  • PKM and PKP
  • RPG-7 or ATGL-L with PG-7M/PG-7L plus various other BULSPIKE-AT, 9K38 Igla, 9M111 and 9M113 ATGM
Ukrainian SOF servicemen part of the 73rd Marine Special Operations Center during a room clearance exercise

Kit observed :

  • Arc'teryx LEAF Minotaur Half-Shell
  • Ops Core FAST high cut
  • L3 Harris GPNVG-18 with battery
  • Crye Precision High Back Blast Belt with Suspenders
  • WarTech UP-102 "Spotter" Pouch
  • Single Mag Pouch MTAC AK
  • Bastion "FORT" Double Grenade Pouch
  • USGI NOD Pouch
  • Radio VX600

Ukraine and, in particular, UASOF have received material military of various countries such as the United States.

In June 2020 , the US State Department has accepted the sale of 16 SAFE Boats International Mark VI patrol boats to Ukrainian Special Operations Forces.

In February 2021, Ukraine also received 84 small boats and 20 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV).

Unit aviation has access to Mi-8 Hips and Mi-2 Hoplites helicopters, both made in Russia, and An-26 Curl aircraft. Since 2018, UASOF also uses Mol H125 and H225 helicopters, manufactured by a French company called Airbus Helicopters .

6. Joint military exercises

Over the past 10 years, Special Operations Forces have participated in numerous joint military exercises with NATO and non-NATO partners. The United States and other Western special forces largely supported the formation of UASOF.

6.1. Aurora borealis

In 2003 , UASOF participated in Northern Light 03 (NL 03) which took place in the Irish Sea. Twelve NATO countries and two partner countries, Sweden and Ukraine participated in this exercise focused on the crisis response operation.

The scenario used for this specific exercise described an armed insurgency in a non-NATO country that threatened international security interests.

In 2017, UASOF, specifically the 140th Special Operations Forces Center, participated in the Flaming Sword exercise 2017 in Lithuania. The exercise lasted three weeks and more than a thousand operators from nine countries took part.

In 2018 , US and Ukrainian special forces participated in the exercise Combined Resolve XI at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany.

This exercise, aimed at improving unit interoperability and readiness, included 16 nations and more than 5,500 soldiers.

It was the first time that UASOF participated in this exercise.

In 2020 , UASOF conducted a joint exercise with British Royal Navy reconnaissance operators. The operation involved boarding and disengaging the Royal Navy destroyer "Dragon" in Odessa. The training focused primarily on kidnapping, boarding, close combat, and clearing the ship.

( Source )

6.2. UASOF activities in 2021

In 2021, Ukrainian special operations forces participated in numerous joint exercises.

In June, the UASOF conducted training in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defense in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (in Pripyat). During the exercise, Ukrainian special operations forces had to search for a chemical laboratory, suspected to be the place where a terrorist group made a bomb. This exercise was part of the certification of the evaluation process of the NRF.

6.3. Sea breeze

Between the 28th June and July 10, the U.S. 6th Fleet and 73rd Marine Special Operations Center participated in Exercise Sea Breeze 2021 in the Black Sea region.


Ukraine and the United States began this cooperation in 1997, in order to bring NATO members and its partners closer together. Additionally, the 2021 exercise focused on dive operations, interdiction operations, anti-submarine warfare, land maneuver warfare, and rescue missions.

6.4. Saber Junction

At the beginning of September, the Ukrainian SOF took part in Saber Junction 21 in Hohenfels, Germany. While European and African countries took part in this US-led exercise focused on land operations in a joint combined environment and readiness.

6.5. Quick Trident

From 20 September to 1 October st, the UASOF participated in the exercise Rapid Trident 2021 in Yavoriv, ​​Ukraine. THE Rapid Trident is a US-led exercise in 2021 focused on defense capabilities, readiness and interoperability.

Ukrainian and Moldovan ground forces are training on the Fast Rope Insertion/Extraction System (FRIES) and Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction System (SPIES) with the use of a Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopter in part of Rapid Trident 2021 at Combat Training Center-Yavoriv near Yavoriv, ​​Ukraine Photo by Spc. Preston Hammon


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published