by ROMAN TYMOTSK
March 10, 2023
The Ukrainian Weekly
LVIV – Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said it has formed a new Offensive Guard assault force that will be tasked with liberating the temporarily occupied territories of the country. The ministry also announced that it had received 23,000 applications to join the force in the first month of its recruitment campaign.
Lt. Gen. Ihor Romanenko said that brigades of the Offensive Guard would be used to clear liberated cities and villages after units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine break through front lines. Using the Offensive Guard to clear newly retaken Ukrainian land would allow the Armed Forces to continue moving forward without delay.
The Offensive Guard will initially be made up of eight assault brigades and they will train with the National Guard of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said.
The assault brigades are explicitly aimed at strengthening Ukraine’s forces and liberating the occupied territories of the country, Internal Affairs Minister Ihor Klymenko said.
Mr. Klymenko said officials had initial concerns that there would be few volunteers willing to join the ranks of the Offensive Guard. But the recently-created force has received 23,000 applications as of March 7. Mr. Klymenko said that the average age of volunteers is 33, while the oldest is 69. They have also received more than 600 applications from women. Mr. Klymenko said the Guard will not accept applications from foreigners.
He also said that, while the Offensive Guard’s commanders will not be anonymous, its rank-and-file soldiers will be kept confidential. “The entire personnel, first of all – intelligence, assault units – these are people who during the war will be extremely closed from providing information to the general public,” Mr. Klymenko said during an interview with Ukrinform.
The minimum salary for a permanently-deployed member of the Offensive Guard is 25,000 hryvnias a month (nearly $650, 30 percent higher than the average Ukrainian salary), Mr. Klymenko said, but a specific salary will depend on a soldier’s location of deployment.
The idea of creating the new force came from the previous minister of internal affairs, Denys Monastyrskyy, who died in a plane crash in Brovary, Ukraine, on January 18.
On February 2, Mr. Klymenko, who at the time was the acting minister of internal affairs, announced that the ministry had started the formation of Offensive Guard assault brigades. “The decision to create assault brigades was made by our workers with enough fury to beat the enemy. Many of our servicemen, who defended and defend our country, took the initiative to recruit people into such units.
Therefore, we decided that all those who want to join, who are patriots, who lost their homes or relatives at war, should be united in such brigades. We have already begun forming units to
liberate our territories and stand on internationally recognized borders. This is our main goal,” Mr. Klymenko said.
The minister said that the units would be made up of police officers, border guards and national guardsmen. “First of all, these people went through the crucible of 2014-2015, some of whom fought already in 2022. Some of them were wounded. The units will consist exclusively of volunteers motivated by patriotism, and there are many such people in our country,” Mr. Klymenko said in February.
Ukrainian citizens who want to join the Offensive Guard can apply at storm.mvs.gov.ua website. The website also includes a hotline phone number that individuals can use to learn more about the force before submitting an application.
The Offensive Guard will be made up of the following brigades: Steel Border, a brigade of the State Border Service of Ukraine; Chervona Kalyna, including soldiers who participated in the battles in Donetsk and Luhansk regions and defended Kyiv; Lyut (Rage), a brigade of the National Police of Ukraine; Rubizh (Frontier), a brigade consisting of soldiers who defended the Hostomel airport and Rubizhne in the Luhansk oblast; Spartan, an assault brigade that defended Kharkiv; Kara-Dag, which will focus on the liberation of Crimea; Bureviy (Hurricane), which will be based on the 1st presidential brigade; and the Azov brigade, made up of soldiers who took part in the defense of the Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol, Ukraine.
“You can sign up online by filling out a form and an operator will call you back within an hour and advise which recruiting location to come to. There are already more than 140 of them across Ukraine. The addresses of these points are on the website, and every volunteer can come to the nearest location. Also, the candidate must pass a military medical board and pass a psychological and physical test. After successful completion, he is enrolled in the brigade he chose,” Mr. Klymenko said.
He also noted that all of the fighters of these brigades will receive the same benefits that are given to military personnel and police officers. “All benefits and social guarantees are preserved for these volunteers. In addition, we offer a decent salary. We also offer the opportunity to obtain a profession in the Ministry of Internal Affair’s educational institutions. And, of course, everyone will be able to dispose of the enemy,” Mr. Klymenko said, adding that the recently created force will be made up of motivated, professional soldiers. “They will be among like-minded people. There will be high-quality commanders with combat experience,” he said.
The training of brigade fighters will last several months: first individually, then as part of a unit. When a particular unit’s commander believes the soldiers are properly prepared, they will then be deployed to combat.
Assault brigades of the Offensive Guard will undergo training and coordination for two to four months, said Ruslan Muzychuk, a spokesman for the National Guard. “We focus on recruiting highly-motivated people and we will provide them with high-quality training based on instructors and commanders who have combat experience. When the full stage of training and combat coordination at the battalion level is completed, they will then be involved in performing tasks on the battlefield,” Mr. Muzychuk said.