Territorial defence battalions (Ukraine)

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11th territorial defence battalion "Kievan Rus" fighter, 2014

Territorial defence battalions (Ukrainian: Батальйо́ни територіа́льної оборо́ни) were volunteer military units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine under the auspices of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence in 2014–2015. They should not be confused with the volunteer units of Special Tasks Patrol Police of Ukraine which created along with territorial defense battalions, but under the auspices of the Ministry of Interior. The battalions were established in mid-2014, during the early stages of the War in Donbass, to combat the pro-Russian separatists[1][2][3] and the forces of the Donetsk People's Republic, Luhansk People's Republic, and the United Armed Forces of Novorossiya. 32 volunteer territorial defence battalions have been formed.

In autumn 2014 most of the territorial defence battalions were reorganized as motorized infantry battlions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.


In March 2014 acting President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov issued an order to create seven territorial defence battalions.[4] These formations were subordinated to the Ministry of Defense.[5] Battalions generally took their name from wherever most of their recruits were from.

Since 30 April 2014 all territorial defence battalions have been part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and fall under the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the governors of the oblasts (provinces) in which they were created.[16] By law, every oblast in Ukraine should create its own territorial defence battalions.[5]

During the opening stages of the war in Eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian military and police forces were largely ineffective in separatist areas, often surrendering equipment or being overwhelmed in cities by large crowds of civilians. Federalist and pro-Russian insurgents quickly gained large swaths of territory. Ukraine also lost control of the Ukrainian–Russian border and this allowed time for a large inflow of insurgents and military supplies from Russia.

By August 2014 over 5,600 volunteers had joined defence battalions across Ukraine and about 7,000 volunteers had joined by the end of September.[23][24]

The Russian Communist Party has pushed to label the battalions as terrorist organizations, even though they are directly subordinate to the Government of Ukraine and are legal government agencies of Ukraine.[25] Russian politicians have not pushed for declaring pro-Russian insurgents fighting in Ukraine as terrorists.

In the 2014 Ukrainian parliamentary election several members of the battalions were elected into the Ukrainian parliament.[26][27]


On 10 November 2014 Stepan Poltorak, the Minister of Defence of Ukraine, ordered territorial defence battalions to reorganize as motorized infantry battalions.[28][29]


The battalions receive basic resources and weapons from the Interior Ministry or the Ministry of Defence.[5] These resources soon proved to be inadequate and numerous groups have helped to equip the battalions.[5] The best known volunteer groups are Self-defence of Maidan, which has its own warehouses in Melitopol, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv, and Army SOS, an initiative of former Euromaidan activists. Volunteers provide things like: hygiene items, food, sleeping bags, night vision goggles and multicopters (for use as drones).[5]

List of territorial defence battalions[edit]


  1. ^ Bidder, Benjamin; Gathmann, Moritz; Neef, Christian; Schepp, Matthias (2 September 2014). "Undeclared War: Putin's Covert Invasion of Eastern Ukraine". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  2. ^ Shapiro, Jeremy (2 May 2014). "Ukraine crisis: Why the U.S. isn't tougher on Russia". Fortune. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Reversal of fortune". The Economist. 6 September 2014. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
  4. ^ Pike, John. ">Territorial Defense Battalions (BTrO / BTD)". www.globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2017-01-22.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Ukraine's volunteer battalions: The new model army". Ukrinform. 2014. Archived from the original on 25 October 2014.
  6. ^ Львов создает батальон территориальной обороны // «Аргументы и факты — Украина» от 18 марта 2014
  7. ^ В Днепропетровске формируется Полк защиты // «Корреспондент. NET» от 19 марта 2014
  8. ^ В Днепропетровской области формируют два батальона территориальной обороны // «Подробности. UA» от 11 мая 2014
  9. ^ В Тернополе формируют батальон территориальной обороны // «112.UA» (7 May 2014)
  10. ^ В Житомирской области появился батальон обороны края «Полесье» // "Житомир.INFO" (12 April 2014)
  11. ^ Территориальный батальон Житомирщины обеспечивает охрану государственной границы. ФОТО // «Житомир online» (9 September 2014)
  12. ^ Игорь Андрейченко про службу в 13-м БТО Archived 2014-10-15 at the Wayback Machine // «Новини Чернігова» (27 June 2014)
  13. ^ Сумы cоздают батальон территориальной обороны // «Ukrinform» (24 April 2014)
  14. ^ В Харькове создали очередной батальон, а самооборона рвется в МВД // «Сегодня.UA» (26 April 2014)
  15. ^ В Україні створюються батальйони територіальної оборони — С. Пашинський // The official web-site of the President of Ukraine (30 April 2014)
  16. ^ Батальоны территориальной обороны будут подчиняться Генштабу и председателям ОГА — Пашинский // "Ukrinform" (30 April 2014)
  17. ^ Указ Президента України № 454/2014 Про часткову мобілізацію / official web-site of The President of Ukraine
  18. ^ "In Nikolaev create the armed battalion of territorial self-defence for situation deduction in the region". NEWS.PN. 6 May 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  19. ^ "Promised Remedies Transformation 34 Battalion territorial defence". Kirovohrad Oblast Council. 26 July 2014.[dead link]
  20. ^ Порошенко подписал закон о мобилизации. Частичная мобилизация будет длиться в течение 45 дней // "Вести.UA" (23 July 2014)
  21. ^ В Запорожской области формируют новый батальон и возводят фортификационные сооружения Archived 2015-07-14 at the Wayback Machine // NEWSRU.UA (29 August 2014)
  22. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in Ukrainian) Zaporizhia Oblast will create a new battalion of heavy machinery, Ukrayinska Pravda (8 September 2014)
  23. ^ "Батальйон". Полтавська.info - Новини Полтави - Новости Полтавы. Archived from the original on 2014-09-03. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  24. ^ "Territorial Defence Battalion disbanded due to looting". Liga. 30 September 2014.
  25. ^ "Russian Communist Party wants Ukrainians fighting in the east classified as "terrorists"". Euromaidan Press. 6 August 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  26. ^ People's Front names top ten candidates in elections, Ukrinform (15 September 2014)
  27. ^ Poroshenko Bloc to have greatest number of seats in parliament, Ukrainian Television and Radio (8 November 2014)
    People's Front 0.33% ahead of Poroshenko Bloc with all ballots counted in Ukraine elections – CEC, Interfax-Ukraine (8 November 2014)
    Poroshenko Bloc to get 132 seats in parliament – CEC, Interfax-Ukraine (8 November 2014)
    Video of first brawl in Verkhovna Rada becomes a YouTube hit, Kyiv Post (5 December 2014)
    "Frontline politics: Ukraine fighters run for parliament". Agence France-Presse. 21 October 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-12-06.
    War veterans steal limelight in Ukraine's new parliament, Reuters (27 November 2014)
  28. ^ "Полторак: добровольческие батальоны будут подчиняться украинской армии". RIA Novosti.
  29. ^ "Структура військ територіальної оборони Збройних Сил України". www.ukrmilitary.com. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  30. ^ Батальон "Прикарпатье" расформировали, почти 70% его бойцов участвуют в АТО, - и. о. военкома // "112.UA" (16 January 2015)
  31. ^ На Хмельниччині підрозділи батальйону територіальної оборони завершили процес бойового злагодження (21 June 2014)