‘By no means was a lot owed by so many to so few’

The motto of Ukraine’s Particular Operations Forces is “I Come At You!”—a quote attributed to Sviatoslav the Courageous, a grand prince of Kyiv within the tenth century. Recognized for his braveness, Sviatoslav managed to defeat highly effective armies. The motto is displayed on the SOF’s emblem which shows a silver wolf with a gold belt behind which is a wreath of silver leaves.

On July 29—which is Particular Operations Forces Day—Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated:

“Your exploits will not be brazenly spoken about, and your faces all the time stay hidden, however we’re all assured within the excessive degree of your coaching, hardening, invincibility of spirit, braveness and dedication.

“On today I additionally want to point out SOF troopers who died within the battles for independence and the sovereignty of our state. Everlasting reminiscence to them! All of us thank the troopers in grey berets for the worthy success of their mission to guard the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Ukraine!” 


Russian President Vladimir Putin envisioned a shock and awe marketing campaign that might seize Kyiv inside 72 hours and topple the Ukrainian authorities. Within the preliminary hours of the invasion, Russia’s elite VDV paratroopers, utilizing about 30 helicopters, carried out an air assault on the Antonov airport close to the Ukrainian city of Hostomel, about 20 miles from Kyiv.

The Russians have been so assured they wouldn’t meet any resistance that the airborne assault came about with out supporting floor forces or barrages of long-range missile fireplace to weaken the Ukrainian defenses.

Ukrainian defenders opened fireplace with machine weapons in addition to anti-tank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, downing a minimum of three helicopters. However a number of hundred Russian paratroopers took management of the airport.

Ukrainian artillery, drones, and bombers struck the runway to stop additional landings. After which Ukrainian Particular Operations Forces, supported by a mechanized brigade, attacked the airport, stopping Russian cargo planes from bringing in heavy tools and reinforcements, irritating them and making a fast seize of Kyiv troublesome.

As combating raged in Kyiv suburbs, special forces items connected to Ukraine’s navy intelligence service sneaked behind Russian strains to explode elements of a dam on the Irpin River to launch a torrent of water that flooded the Russian forces and created a muddy quagmire impenetrable for tanks, blocking an assault on Kyiv from the west.

Ukraine’s SOF then performed a key function in halting the 40-mile convoy of armored automobiles and provide vans that Russia despatched from Belarus to help the assault on Kyiv, disrupting Russia’s provide strains. Numerous injury was completed in a sequence of evening ambushes carried out by a staff of 30 Ukrainian SOF troopers and drone operators on quad bikes, The Guardian reported.

The commander of the Aerorozvidka drone reconnaissance unit, Lt. Col. Yaroslav Honchar, instructed The Guardian that the Ukrainian fighters on quad bikes have been in a position to method the advancing Russian column at evening by using via the dense forest on both facet of the street main south towards Kyiv from the path of Chernobyl.

The Ukrainian troopers have been geared up with evening imaginative and prescient goggles, sniper rifles, Javelin anti-tank missiles, remotely detonated mines, drones geared up with thermal imaging cameras, and others able to dropping small 1.5 kg bombs.

The Guardian wrote:

“This one little unit within the evening destroyed two or three automobiles on the head of this convoy, and after that it was caught. They stayed there two extra nights, and [destroyed] many automobiles,” Honchar stated.

The Russians broke the column into smaller items to attempt to make headway in the direction of the Ukrainian capital, however the identical assault staff was in a position to mount an assault on its provide depot, he claimed, crippling the Russians’ capability to advance.

“The primary echelon of the Russian drive was caught with out warmth, with out oil, with out bombs and with out fuel. And all of it occurred due to the work of 30 individuals,” Honchar stated.


After struggling heavy casualties and large tools losses, Russia determined to chop its losses and introduced in late March that its forces would abandon the assault on Kyiv and refocus on the Donbas area in jap Ukraine. In a David vs. Goliath wrestle, Ukraine had managed to win the Battle of Kyiv.


When Ukraine declared its independence in 1991, its particular forces consisted of the remnants of Soviet Spetsnaz items primarily based within the nation. Then in 2011, the pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych dismantled the Particular Operations Forces. (Always remember that Paul Manafort was paid thousands and thousands of {dollars} to function Yanukovych’s political advisor.)

After Yanukovych was ousted within the February 2014 Maidan Revolution, Russia annexed Crimea and supported separatists within the Donbas area. On the time, Ukraine’s Chief of the Common Employees, Viktor Muzhenko, described Ukraine’s forces as “a military actually in ruins.” 

In September 2014, the brand new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko determined to speed up the method of forming once more the Particular Operations Forces. On the finish of 2015, the Ministry of Protection made the Particular Operations Command (identified by its Ukrainian initials because the SSO) a brand new and separate department of the Ukrainian armed forces.

By this time, the U.S. had established the Joint Multinational Coaching Group-Ukraine working out of a former Soviet base in Yavoriv in western Ukraine. The principle focus of the coaching was to remodel Ukraine’s common military from the inflexible hierarchical Soviet mannequin to a contemporary NATO-style combating drive with an even bigger decision-making function for NCOs and junior officers.

RELATED STORY: How Ukraine reworked its navy with the assistance of U.S. advisers at a former Soviet base 

However on the similar time, U.S. Inexperienced Berets and particular forces troops from different NATO international locations started coaching their Ukrainian counterparts in finishing up unconventional warfare and guerrilla ways.

Some elite Ukrainian commandos obtained particular coaching within the U.S. from the CIA in intelligence gathering and insurgency ways. Yahoo News wrote:

One particular person conversant in this system put it extra bluntly. “The USA is coaching an insurgency,” stated a former CIA official, including that this system has taught the Ukrainians how “to kill Russians.”

By 2017, Ukrainian commandos had began collaborating commonly in joint workout routines with particular forces from the U.S. and different NATO members in Lithuania, Germany, and the Black Sea area.

And by 2021, two Ukrainian SOF items had been declared eligible for being deployed as a part of the NATO Response Pressure, changing into the primary non-NATO particular operations items to obtain such certification.

By the point the Russians launched their full-scale invasion, Ukraine had constructed up a Particular Operations Pressure of about 4,000 troops, with land, sea, and airborne items. Gen. Richard Clarke, who lately retired as head of U.S. Particular Operations Command, instructed The Washington Put up

“When the Russians invaded in February, we’d been working with Ukrainian SOF for seven years. With our help, they constructed the capability, so that they grew they usually grew in numbers, however extra importantly, they constructed functionality,” in each fight assaults and data operations.

To organize to repel the Russian invasion, every Ukrainian SOF brigade final 12 months created and educated a ‘resistance firm’ recruited from the native inhabitants in areas equivalent to Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and the Donbas that have been prone to be Russian targets. In consequence, Clarke stated, “If you happen to’re a Russian soldier as we speak, your head should be on a swivel since you don’t know the place the risk is. They’ll’t have a look at any Ukrainian and know if that particular person is an enemy.”

“We come at you” was a video launched by Ukraine’s SOF earlier than the Russian invasion: 


As a result of operational safety, the total story of what missions have been carried out by Ukraine’s Particular Operations Forces isn’t identified. For instance, we don’t know their attainable function in attacking Russian airfields deep in Crimea or blowing up the Kerch bridge connecting the peninsula with Russia.

The duties assigned to Ukraine’s SOF embody collaborating in raids behind enemy strains, amassing intelligence and constructing intelligence networks, enterprise hostage or prisoner rescue missions, serving to partisans stage assaults, and finishing up psychological operations. Lots of the fight movies and intercepts of Russian troopers’ cellphone calls posted on social media have been the work of the SOF’s psy-ops items.

Rescue of Melitopol mayor:  After capturing the southern metropolis of Melitopol, Russian forces kidnapped Mayor Ivan Fedorov after he refused to collaborate with the occupiers. Just a few days later, Ukrainian particular forces rescued Fedorov in a mission whose particulars haven’t been revealed. Zelenskyy spoke with Federov after his rescue, declaring “We don’t abandon our individuals.”


Battle of Severodonetsk: After dropping the Battle of Kyiv, Russia shifted its focus to the Donbas area in jap Ukraine in an effort to finish its occupation of the Donetsk and Luhansk areas. Ukraine wanted to carry off the Russians to purchase time to coach its newly mobilized troops and start to deploy the extra superior weapons techniques it had began receiving from the U.S. and its allies.

Russian forces started the offensive towards Severodonetsk in early March, however didn’t take management of town till June 25. The Institute for the Examine of Struggle stated the battle had tied down Russian troops which may have been used elsewhere within the warfare, saying that Russia had “concentrated the overwhelming majority of its out there fight energy to seize Severodonetsk and Lysychansk on the expense of different axes of advance and is struggling heavy casualties to take action.”

Ukrainian particular forces, expert at city fight, ventured out at evening to assault Russian items in house-to-house combating.

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Battle of Mariupol: Russian forces surrounded the southern metropolis of Mariupol and drove the Ukrainian defenders into the sprawling Azovstal steelworks. In late March, the defenders have been working low on ammunition and medication.

On March 21, two MI-8 helicopters carrying Ukrainian Special Forces fighters flew barely 20 ft above the bottom into the Azovstal compound, bringing crates of Stinger and Javelin missiles and drugs. The helicopters evacuated wounded troopers on the return leg.

Six extra helicopter resupply missions have been carried out earlier than it grew to become too harmful to proceed. One flight introduced in dozens of reinforcements for the besieged garrison. The Azovstal defenders have been in a position to maintain out till mid-Could after they have been ordered to go away the plant. However the protection tied down 1000’s of Russian troops who may have been deployed elsewhere on the southern and jap fronts.

Finishing up reconnaissance missions: Special Forces scouts use drones and missions behind Russian strains to hunt targets. They’d then coordinate with Ukrainian artillery to destroy the goal.

On this video offered by the Command of the Particular Operations Forces, scouts within the Donetsk area discovered a Russian column that included six Uragan MLRS, transport and loading automobiles, gas vans, fireplace management automobiles, armored automobiles, and anti-infantry automobiles. The scouts then efficiently helped modify the Ukrainian artillery fireplace to destroy the Russian convoy.

Liberation of Snake Island: On the primary day of the invasion, Russian troops captured Snake Island within the Black Sea. The final communication heard from the Ukrainian defenders was: “Russian warship, go f-ck your self.”

On July 7, Special Forces fight divers approached the island in underwater automobiles after which surveyed the coastal space for the presence of mines. They then known as in engineers who eliminated any mines and different traps left behind by Russian troops after they left the island every week earlier following Ukrainian assaults.

The commandos then raised their unit’s flag and Ukrainian flags on the island. 

Supporting partisan actions in occupied territories: SOF troopers have helped type partisan teams in Russian-held territories which have carried out acts of sabotage, assassinated Ukrainian collaborators and Russian officers, and offered intelligence on Russian troop positions, tools, bases, and depots for focusing on.

The Kyiv Impartial printed an in depth report on how Ukrainian particular forces labored with native partisans within the city of Kadiivka within the Luhansk area in early June. The native residents knowledgeable their Special Forces contact that Wagner Group mercenaries had arrange a base on the native stadium.

After verifying the data, the Special Forces known as on the Ukrainian navy to hit the bottom with artillery, killing as much as 200 mercenaries and destroying their weapons depot. 

Movies from the location have been printed by Russian propagandists after Ukraine hit it. There was disagreement amongst Ukrainians about what weapons have been fired, though the Special Forces contact believed lately acquired U.S.-made HIMARS have been used.

Happening offense in Kharkiv and Kherson: When Ukrainian forces launched offensives in the Kharkiv and Kherson areas, Particular Operation Forces wreaked havoc behind enemy strains simply as they did through the Battle of Kyiv, solely then Ukrainian forces have been engaged in a defensive battle.

This video exhibits a small unit of Particular Operations Forces working behind enemy strains ambushing a Russian patrol close to town of Kreminna within the Luhansk area. The footage was shot from a helmet digicam.


On Nov. 11,  the headquarters of the Particular Operations Forces of Ukraine introduced that its troops had been the primary to enter the southern port metropolis of Kherson, the place they have been greeted by a whole lot of residents holding Ukrainian flags within the metropolis middle.

“A shifting assembly stuffed with pleasure: members of the Particular Operations Forces of Ukraine are within the liberated metropolis of Kherson. The feelings of Ukrainians who’ve been stoically ready for the liberation of town and are welcoming their defenders as we speak are simply unimaginable.”


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