On this date, September 16, 2014, the militias of the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic, merged into one group on 16 September 2014, forming the "United Armed Forces of Novorossiya". I will post information about this Military Unit from Wikipedia.
United Armed Forces of Novorossiya
Объединённые Вооруженные Силы Новороссии
3 March 2014
(as Donbass People's Militia)
16 September 2014
Minister of Defence
(Donetsk People's Republic)
(Luhansk People's Republic)
10,000 – 20,000 (July 2014)
30,000 – 35,000 (March 2015)
40,000 (June 2015)
The United Armed Forces of Novorossiya (Russian: Объединённые Вооруженные Силы Новороссии; acronym NAF) is the umbrella name for the militias and armed volunteer groups affiliated with the defunct political union called Novorossiya (New Russia). It consists of the Donbass People's Militia, the Luhansk People's Militia and autonomous armed groups. It is regarded as a terrorist group by the Ukrainian government.
The Donbass People's Militia was formed by Pavel Gubarev, who was elected "People's Governor" of Donetsk Oblast by pro-Russian protesters. It was originally involved in taking control of Ukrainian government buildings in the Donetsk oblast. Tensions increased to the point of the militia being actively involved in fighting a war against the Ukrainian government in the Donbass region of Ukraine. The militia was accused by the Ukrainian government of culpability in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on 17 July 2014. The militias of the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic, merged into one group on 16 September 2014, forming the "United Armed Forces of Novorossiya".
It is widely believed that the separatists are supported by Russian armed forces. Although the Russian government often denies direct involvement stating that their soldiers were there voluntarily and not under orders, some of them were detained riding their combat vehicles with documents proving their origin in Russian armed forces. Moreover, separatists admitted receiving supplies from Russia and being trained there. BBC reported that separatist ranks are composed of thousands of Russian citizens, and NATO accused Russia of deploying their regular troops into Ukraine. Registered Cossacks of the Russian Federation have been reported to be supporting separatists in the conflict as well. Head of the DPR, Alexander Zakharchenko, claimed in August 2014 that there are around 3,000 to 4,000 Russian volunteers fighting for the militia, which includes current and many retired Russian Army servicemen.
On April 6, 2014, 2,000 pro-Russian protesters rallied outside the regional administration building in Donetsk. On the same day, groups of protesters in Eastern Ukraine stormed the regional administration buildings in Donetsk, Kharkiv, and the SBU headquarters in Luhansk. The groups created a people's council and demanded a referendum like in Crimea. Within a few days, several government buildings in cities such as Kramatorsk and Sloviansk were also stormed. On April 12, the supporters of the Donetsk People's Republic and members of Donbass People's Militia set up checkpoints and barricades in Sloviansk. The same day, former members of the Donetsk "Berkut" unit joined the ranks of the Donbass People's Militia. On April 13, the newly established Ukrainian government gave the separatists a deadline to disarm or face a "full-scale anti-terrorist campaign" in the region. Later that day, the first reports of fighting was reported between the people's militia and Ukrainian troops near Sloviansk, with casualties on both sides. On April 14, members of the Donbass People's Militia blocked Ukrainian military KrAZ truck's armed with Grad missiles from entering the city.
On April 15, a full scale "counter-terrorism" operation was launched by the Ukrainian government with aim of restoring their authority over the area's seized by the militia.
On April 16, the militia entered Sloviansk with six BMD airborne amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicles they obtained from parts of the 25th Airborne Brigade who had switched allegiance. The "occupants" were disarmed after the vehicles were blockaded by locals. The militia also received one self-propelled 120 mm mortar 2S9 "Nona-S" On April 20, an unidentified armed group in civilian clothes attacked a Militia checkpoint at the entrance to the city of Sloviansk. Three attackers and three members of Militia were killed. On May 14, eight members of Militia seized an IMR armored vehicle from Novokramatorsky Mashinostroitelny Zavod.
On May 15, the Donbass People's Militia sent an ultimatum to Kiev. They ordered the withdraw all Ukrainian troops from Donetsk oblast. On May 17, several members of the militia seized two BRDM unarmed armored vehicles from Severodonetsk and Lysychansk (Luhansk Oblast) On May 22, the Federal State of Novorossiya was declared. On May 23, several members of people's militia seized another BRDM-RKh unarmed armored vehicle from Loskutovka (Luhansk Oblast)
The militia were widely suspected to be involved in the downing of a civilian airliner, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, on 17 July 2014.
On August 8, the militia claimed that after battles near border with Russia, they captured 67 pieces of equipment with varying status (serviceable equipment without ammunition and fuel, with faults, damaged in battle and completely unusable), including 18 multiple rocket launching systems "Grad", 15 tanks and armored personnel carriers, howitzers, MANPADS, etc. As of August 12, the militia has at least 200 armored vehicles.
The months of July and early August were disastrous for the militias with many analysts saying they were on the verge of defeat before a sudden counteroffensive, which the Ukrainian Government claims was supported by Russian troops, encircled thousands of Ukrainian troops and forced them into a retreat. The militias soon re-captured several strategic positions such as Savur-Mohyla and Luhansk International Airport. The armies of both the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic merged on 16 September 2014 to form the "United Armed Forces of Novorossiya".
On 2 February 2015, Head of the DPR, Alexander Zakharchenko, announced that there would be a general mobilization in the DPR of 10,000 volunteers, and he aimed to eventually expand the NAF to 100,000 soldiers.
On 20 May 2015 the leadership of the Federal State of Novorossiya announced the termination of the confederation 'project' but the United Armed Forces will be retained as the joint armed service of the two constituent states.
DPR troops in Donetsk during a rehearsal for the 2015 Victory Day Parade
The militias consist of different armed groups, which took the oath for Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic. Militant groups which refused to do it were disarmed as gangs in the DPR. Other groups are autonomous forces.
2.1 Combat forces
2.1.1 Donetsk People's Republic
Donbass People's Militia (Russian: Народное ополчение Донбасса)
· North Battalion (Russian: Батальон «Север») (unofficial)
- Patriotic Forces of Donbass (Russian: Патриотические силы Донбасса)
- Vostok Brigade (Russian: Бригада «Восток», meaning "East Brigade") - Special forces brigade that was founded and led by Alexander Khodakovsky. It has foreign volunteers including Russians and North Ossetians. Began as a battalion, and as of June 2014 had about 500 men according to Khodakovsky. It later increased to a brigade.
- Oplot Battalion (Russian: Батальон «Оплот», meaning "Bulwark Battalion") - Commanded by Alexander Zakharchenko.
- Russian Orthodox Army (Russian: Русская православная армия) - One of the armed groups, which control Donetsk, formed mostly by locals from coal mine towns. It reportedly had 100 members at the time of its founding. According to Ukrainian sources, in June 2014 has at least 350 fighters. According to independent sources as fighting between separatists and the Ukrainian government worsened in Donbass, membership rose to 4,000.
- Miner's Division (Russian: Шахтёрская дивизия) - Founded shortly after the rebel withdrawal from Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. It is commanded by Konstantin Kuzmin. Fighters typically range from ages 22–60. Composed of former coal miners.
- Kalmius Battalion (Russian: Батальон «Кальмиус») - Special forces battalion commanded by Sergei Petrovskiy.
- Consolidated Orthodox Battalion "Voshod" or Voshod Battalion (Russian: Батальон «Восход»), meaning "Sunrise Battalion") - Formed in June 2014, it had 300 fighters.
- Steppe Battalion (Russian: Батальон «Степь»)
- Battalion of DPR Security Service (Russian: Батальон службы безопасности Донецкой народной республики)
- Sparta Battalion (Russian: Батальон «Спарта») - Special forces battalion led by Arsey Pavlov, better known as Motorola. Includes Russians, fighters typically have helmets and modern personal equipment.
- 1st Independent Battalion-Tactical Group "Somalia" or Somalia Battalion (Russian: Батальон «Сомали») - Tactical group led by Mikhail Tolstykh, better known as Givi.
2.1.2 Independent DPR forces
- International Battalions - Includes Russian, Chechen, Greek, Ossetian, Polish, Hungarian, Serbian, Latvian, Belarusian, Uzbek, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Armenian and other volunteers.
- Orthodox Dawn (Bulgarian: Православна Зора) - Bulgarian volunteer group.
- Legion of Saint Stephen (Russian: Легион Святого Иштвана) - Hungarian subgroup of international battalions. The group espouses a Hungarian nationalist platform, demanding self-determination for the Hungarian minority in Zakarpattia Oblast, and has been accused of being close to the far-right Jobbik party in Hungary.
- Death Battalion (Russian: Батальон «Смерть») - Chechen volunteer group.
- Varyag Battalion (Russian: Батальон «Варяг»), meaning "Varangian Battalion") - Volunteer battalion commanded by Alexander Matyushin.
- RNU Volunteer Units - Includes volunteers from Russian National Unity and other Neo-nazi organizations.
2.1.3 Luhansk People's RepublicLuhansk People's Militia (Russian: Народная милиция ЛНР). Formerly known as Army of the South-East (Russian: Армия Юго-Востока) until late 2014.
- Zarya Battalion (Russian: Батальон «Заря», meaning "Dawn Battalion") - Commanded by Andrei Patrushev. Includes Russian volunteers - national-bolsheviks, members of The Other Russia.
- Leshiy Battalion (Russian: Батальон «Леший», meaning "Forest-spirit Battalion") - Special forces battalion commanded by Aleksey Pavlov.
2.1.4 Independent LPR forces
- Great Host of Don Cossacks (Russian: Всевеликое войско Донское) - An international organisation that recruits volunteers from Ukraine and Russia.
- Cossack National Guard (Russian: Казачья Национальная гвардия) - Don Cossack volunteer group commanded by Rashid Shakirzanov. The group has over 4,000 fighters and have access to armor and artillery. From May to November 2014, the group was commanded by Ataman Nikolai Kozitsyn. Kozitsyn was forcibly removed from power in November 2014 and replaced by Shakirzanov. The group's headquarters is in Antratsyt, and their rule expands to Krasnyi Luch. Initially, this group was identified as Russian Special Forces by the U.S. State Department following the takeover of the Sloviansk city council. In November 2014, the group instated capital punishment in Perevalsk to deter crime. Kozitsyn stated that there is no more marauding, burglaries or car-jacking in the city. They refused to join the LPR's military command but insist on cooperating with them, remaining autonomous and controlling territory.
- First Cossack Regiment (Russian: Первый казачий полк) - Don Cossack volunteer group commanded by Ataman Pavel Dryomov. The group has around 1,300 fighters, and the headquarters is in Stakhanov. Originally part of Kozitsyn's Cossack National Guard until it split in September 2014. Dryomov denounced the LPR's leadership as being corrupt and "pro-oligarchic".
- Mechanized Brigade "Prizrak" or Prizrak Brigade (Russian: Бригада «Призрак», meaning "Ghost Brigade") - Mechanized infantry brigade that was commanded by Aleksey Mozgovoy. The group keeps its distance from the LPR authorities and is based in Alchevsk and the surrounding district.
- Continental Unit (French: Unité Continentale) - French, Serbian and Brazilian volunteer group.
- Unit #404 - International communist volunteer group commanded by Piotr Biriukov.
- Sloviansk Brigade (Russian: Славянская бригада) - Brigade that was commanded by Igor Strelkov.
- United Battalions of the DPR and LPR.
- North Battalion
- Prizrak Battalion
- Rapid Response Group "Batman" or Batman Battalion (Russian: Группа быстрого реагирования «Бэтмен») - Commanded by Alexander Bednov until he was killed in an attack on his convoy on 1 January 2015. Members of the group said that the attack was ordered by head of the Luhansk People's Republic Igor Plotnitsky. Following this attack, the LPR arrested some of Bednov's men, and dissolved the battalion. Some of its personnel were dispersed into other LPR units, while DPR field commanders Givi and Motorola invited former members to join their battalions.
- Rusich Company (Russian: ДШРГ «Русич») - Special forces-type company commanded by Aleksey Milchakov. Made up of far-right Russian volunteers. On July 10, 2015, Milchakov announced that the Rusich Company would be withdrawing from Donbass for retraining and refitting.
2.2 Non-combat units
- Novorossiya Humanitarian Battalion (Russian: Гуманитарный батальон «Новороссия») - non-combat unit involved in protecting the delivery of humanitarian aid
Donetsk People's Republic
- Alexander Zakharchenko
- Alexander Borodai
- Pavel Gubarev
- Igor Strelkov
- Vyacheslav Ponomarev
- "Romashka" (nom de guerre), real name Sergei Zhurikov (Russian: Сергей Журиков) †
- Alexander Khodakovsky
- Igor Bezler
- Sergei Petrovskiy
- Motorola (nom de guerre), real name Arseny Pavlov
- Givi (nom de guerre), real name Mikhail Tolstykh
Luhansk People's Republic
- Igor Plotnitsky
- Valery Bolotov
- Nikolai Kozitsyn
- Pavel Dryomov
- Aleksey Mozgovoy †
- Alexander Bednov (Russian: Александр Беднов) †
4 Flags and symbols
4.1 Historical flags
4.2 Others Flags
4.3 Flags of new States, including nongovernment (public) organizations
4.4 Flags of military units and troops
According to independent sources, rebels mostly used equipment that was available domestically before the Ukrainian crisis. However, the rebels were also seen using weapons that were not known to be exported to or otherwise available in Ukraine. Appearance of some of the latest models of Russian military equipment, which was never exported outside of Russia, is particularly noteworthy.
According to the Donetsk People's Republic all its military equipment is "hardware that we took from the Ukrainian military". However, according to the Ukrainian government and the United States Department of State this is a false statement and claim the separatists have received military equipment from Russia, including multiple rocket launch systems and tanks. Despite the fact that Russian officials deny supplying arms to the militia, numerous evidence proves that it is true. In August 2014 Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey claimed the proof for the weapons supply from Russia was that the fighters of the Donbass People's Militia were using Russian-made weapons that were never used (or bought) by the Ukrainian army.
Among such exclusively Russian equipment seen with pro-Russian separatists are Russian modifications of tank T-72 (particularly T-72B3 and T-72BA seen destroyed in Ukraine), infantry fighting vehicle BTR-82AM (adopted in Russia in 2013), armored personnel carriers BPM-97, sophisticated anti-aircraft system Pantsir-S1, multipurpose vehicle GAZ Vodnik (adopted in Russia in 2005), Russian modifications of MT-LB, rocket-propelled flamethrower MRO-A, anti-tank missile Kornet, anti-materiel rifle ASVK, suppressed sniper rifle VSS Vintorez and others.
6 Relationship with Russia
As the conflict intensified, the Donbass People's Militia was bolstered with many volunteers from the former Soviet Union, mainly Russia; including fighters from Chechnya and North Ossetia.
According to the Ukrainian government and the United States Department of State the Donbass People's Militia have received military equipment from Russia, including Russian tanks and multiple rocket launchers. Russia denied doing this and has described the Russian citizens fighting with the Donbass People's Militia as volunteers. The Donetsk People's Republic claimed on 16 August 2014 it had received (together with 30 tanks and 120 other armoured vehicles of undisclosed origin) 1,200 "individuals who have gone through training over a four-month period on the territory of the Russian Federation". The Donetsk People's Republic claims it has not received military equipment from Russia; but that all its military equipment is "hardware that we took from the Ukrainian military". In August 2014 Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey disputed this claim because (according to him) the fighters of the Donbass People's Militia were using Russian-made weapons that were never used (or bought) by the Ukrainian army, and which therefore had to have been supplied to them by Russia.
The injured of the Donbass People's Militia were exclusively treated in Russia. During mid-August 2014, hospitals such as the Donetsk Central Hospital in Donetsk, Russia attended to between 10 and 20 injured fighters daily. The Russian Emergency Ministry assisted with treatment logistics. Those questioned and registered by the (Russian) Federal Security Service and treated in Russia during this period stated that they would not return to Ukraine if the Ukrainian army won the War in Donbass, but would, instead, engage in a partisan warfare campaign in Eastern Ukraine.