The National Guard of Ukraine was formed after Ukraine gained independence - on November 4, 1991. The National Guard operated as a separate independent force structure until 2000. Later it was disbanded. After Russia occupied the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and started hostilities in the territory of the eastern regions, the troops of Guard were revived again. Before the Day of the National Guard of Ukraine - March 26 - Kyiv Post spoke with the chief press officer of the formation, an officer with almost 20 years of experience - Colonel Ruslan Muzychuk.

How was the National Guard of Ukraine revived?

We can say that a certain voluntary movement has started since the Revolution of Dignity (2013-2014). With the beginning of the war, this movement began to develop. Many volunteers expressed their desire to enroll in training and form volunteer battalions directly from Independence Square (Maidan). And so it happened, on March 14, 2014, several hundred people went to the NGU training ground near Kyiv. Later they’ve become a part of the National Guard as reserve battalions. However, according to the law, all military formations that carry out tasks with weapons must be part of certain structures, so the first volunteer battalions were included in the revived National Guard of Ukraine. In particular, the first reserve battalion underwent a month and a half of accelerated training and took part in combat operations near Sloviansk. The National Guard, having military background and experience, as well as the volunteer spirit, was created as a new formation that had to face various challenges.

Does the National Guard differ from other military formations?

It should first be noted that the National Guard is not part of the Ministry of Defense, but of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. Why so? We have the capabilities to carry out law enforcement functions since we are more than just a military formation. We carry out public order and law enforcement tasks and, of course, defend the country.

Photo from the official site of the National Guard of Ukraine.

For instance, we frequently admit that since 2014 we have had a hybrid war. This includes unconventional warfare, like the seizure of administrative buildings, and local administrations, as a result of propaganda and information companies. So the formations, such as the National Guard of Ukraine, can perform the tasks to counter these threats, both by performing law enforcement and military functions. The structures of similar type are the French or Romanian Gendarmeries, the National Guard of California, the Italian Carabinieri, etc. However, according to the law, during the period of martial law, the National Guard is subordinated to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In general, the NGU units perform a variety of significant tasks to protect the life, rights, freedom and legitimate interests of Ukrainians.

That is, in most cases, the National Guardsmen perform their functions at the front, or are they still "behind"?

To understand, from the very beginning, I mean 2014, we have been participating in military operations throughout the territory of Ukraine. We perform defensive tasks as the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Our units restrain the enemy, carry out counteroffensive tasks, counter-sniper and even reconnaissance and demining. Under the condition of martial law, the NGU militaries protect the key infrastructure facilities and ensure curfew measures. However, we always participate in combat operations - in quite complicated operations.


Photo from the official site of the National Guard of Ukraine.

Is the National Guard the Ukrainian army?

This is a question that needs some explanation since the term "army" is more often related to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But if we talk about whether they are military, then yes - they are military. And all who are currently defending Ukraine are part of the defense forces. They are military. They are subject to all the same laws, requirements, rights and privileges that are available to the military of the Armed Forces of Ukraine: that is, the procedure for completing service, assigning military ranks, calculating years of service, and even the same salary is calculated in the same way, in particular, the same if a National Guard is on the front line, he receives additional payment of 100 thousand hryvnias.

I know that one of the last projects in which the National Guard participates is the "Offensive Guard". What is it?

The "Offensive Guard" is a project of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, according to which eight brigades were created. They will participate not only in the defense of the country but also in the counter-offensive. One of these brigades is a part of the National Police, another one is a part of the state border service. And the other six have been directly created as part of the National Guard. These brigades are not formed from scratch, as many might have thought at first. They are formed on the basis of already existing military units, in which the staff has been significantly expanded during wartime. That is, in the structure of these six brigades there are soldiers with significant combat experience, in particular, gained since 2014. There are instructors who train these units. Recruitment of volunteers began in February. And by  April 1st, the recruitment should have ended. But probably due to a large number of people willing to join the "Оffensive Guard", it might be continued.

Photo from the official site of the National Guard of Ukraine.

If we return to the National Guard, then who and how can join the formation? And do foreigners have this opportunity?

The requirements are actually very simple. They are defined in the law on military service. In particular, the age of the candidate should be from 18 to 60 years. Of course, it is no less important to be fit in terms of health and to be capable of performing the tasks assigned. These are the preliminary criteria, then the documents are checked, and the psychological assessment is an equally important criterion. For candidates who have higher education or military department graduates, this may determine the future position a person may occupy. As for foreigners, according to the law, which has been amended recently, foreigners can serve in the National Guard. However, the algorithm itself, that is, how it should happen, is still at the stage of development and approval. Before that, foreigners served only as part of the Armed Forces in the Foreign Legion. We expect approval of the changes in the near future.

Photo from the official site of the National Guard of Ukraine.

And what is the composition of the National Guard today?

We cannot reveal the National Guard’s total strength. During the period of martial law, we cannot talk about it. But, as a matter of fact, it increased significantly during the period of the full-scale invasion.

And finally, the main goal?

Well, for now, of course, it is a VICTORY, but in the future, I would still like the state to be always strong in terms of security. So, the National Guard must be one of the effective tools to bring this victory.

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