1) 3rd Separate Assault Infantry Brigade

The 3rd Separate Assault Infantry Brigade began the war in Kyiv, when recruitment offices in the capital were overwhelmed with reservists wanting to get to assigned to a unit, and so many of them joined territorial defense battalions being formed frantically in an attempt to hold back Russian armored columns closing in on the city.

Through word of mouth, one of the new Kyiv territorial defense battalions attracted dozens of active (and marginal) members of the Azov group, a patriotic volunteer organization that had sent armed men to the Donbas in the 2014-16 period, to hold back the Russian army in its first invasion of Ukraine.

Members later told Kyiv Post that the new territorial defense battalion had also attracted substantial numbers of Ukrainians living abroad the moment Russia invaded in late February 2022. Once in Kyiv, they found they were unable to travel onwards to get home, or decided to join up with the Kyiv territorials because that’s where the Russians were attacking.

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Read the full 3rd Separate Assault Infantry Brigade profile here:

2) 28th Mechanized Brigade

The 28th Mechanized Brigade was raised and based in the Black Sea port of Odesa. For most of the war it has fought in and around the cities of Mykolaiv and Kherson. Probably no other unit in the AFU has more experience on the ground, in the southern sector, where most analysts are predicting the Ukrainian counteroffensive will take place.

British Defence Intelligence Update Ukraine 21 April 2024
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British Defence Intelligence Update Ukraine 21 April 2024

Latest from the British Defence Intelligence.

At the start of the war with Russia in 2022, the 28th was already fairly combat-experienced formation, with many of its soldiers being veterans of bitter defensive battles in 2014-15 against the regular Russian army in Donbas. In late February 2022 the brigade was initially assigned to defend Odesa from a possible Russian amphibious assault but, the unexpected rapid advances by Kremlin forces out of Crimea, led to an AFU high command decision to throw the 28th into Mykolaiv as a blocking force, where ultimately Ukrainian defenses held. The brigade commander was killed in fighting in July.

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Read the full 28th Mechanized Brigade profile here

3) 82nd Air Assault Brigade

The Ukrainian military has never acknowledged the existence of this unit, but leaked Pentagon documents identified it as the single most powerful formation likely to be involved in the offensive. The newspaper Forbes on May 3 described the unit as “ridiculously powerful.”

If those documents are accurate, the Ukrainian command plans to amass about half of its best NATO-delivered infantry armored vehicles in this brigade; specifically, 40 tracked German Marder infantry fighting vehicles and 90 US-made Stryker wheeled infantry combat vehicles. Both the Marder and Strkyer vehicles are equipped with excellent day/night sensors and sights, auto-cannons and enough space for a squad of infantrymen. This is, according to that report, the only AFU formation that will be operating these two vehicles.

Read the full 82nd Air Assault Brigade profile here.

4) 10th Mountain Infantry Brigade

If the world – and especially the Kremlin high command – had been more aware at the start of the war that the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) contained formations such as the 10th Mountain Infantry Brigade, there probably would have been fewer predictions of Ukraine collapsing in a few days.

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Even for the AFU, the unit that is now the 10th Separate Mountain Assault Brigade brought to the war a tradition of die-hard Ukrainian patriotism and a long-established combat record. The formation predating the 10th was raised, effectively as territorial formation, in Ukraine’s far-western and viciously anti-Moscow Ivano-Frankivsk region, in 2015. Early recruits also included volunteers from the Donbas regiment – a unit drawn from residents of Ukraine’s Russian-speaking Donetsk and Luhansk regions, ready to fight against the Russian invaders, as well as activists from an extreme right nationalist group called Aidar.

Read the full 10th Mountain Brigade profile here.

5) 73rd Naval Center of Special Operations

 A training unit with the mission of producing combat divers and soldiers, with a mission similar to that of the US Navy SEALS, Ukraine’s 73rd Naval Center of Special Operations has morphed over the course of the war to a small boat, amphibious raiding unit often operating behind Russian lines in the Dnipro River delta.

 Probably numbering no more than a few dozen men, the 73rd won’t be at the forefront of any offensive in the southern sector because, by many accounts, they are already there. Riding in Zodiac-style motor boats, the 73rd has been credited, through Ukrainian military published videos, of crossing the Dnipro into Russia-held territory on the left bank to reconnoiter and raid, as well as doing the same thing on the Kinburn Spit, across open sea, south of the Ukraine-held port of Mykolaiv.

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Read the full 73rd Naval Center of Special Operation profile here.

6) Specialized Unit Kraken

The Ukrainian military’s high command has worked mightily over 14 months of war to hammer the country’s patriotic but sometimes widely different army units, brigades, battalions and other formations into a coherent regular army with proper chains of command, uniform supply, and consistent doctrine.

The Kraken Specialized Unit has managed to buck that trend. It is now one of the few remaining combat formations associated with the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) that matches no official army template, and at the same time is an established outfit with an outstanding fighting reputation.

Kraken was originally formed in Kharkiv in late February 2022. It comprises special forces and military intelligence retirees, football fans, patriotic activists and local citizens angry that the Russians had invaded. Bands of volunteer Kraken fighters helped stymie Russian army advances towards and at times inside Ukraine’s second-largest city with ambushes and knowledge of local terrain.

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Read the full Specialized Unit Kraken report here.

7) 37th Marine Brigade

This is a new Ukrainian Marine unit very likely built on cadre from the long-existing, combat veteran 36th Marine Brigade. Unlike the veteran 36th, the 37th is mentioned specifically in the Discord leaks documents.

Official Ukrainian statements and content appear to confirm the 37th’s existence, but also confirm the continued existence of the 35th and 36th Marine Brigades.

The Ukrainian military over the past year has often expanded formations by taking subordinate battalions – groups of 250-500 men, typically – and then pushing reservists and newly-trained recruits into a new brigade with a planned full strength of 1200-1500 men.

Based on Discord Leaks, the 37th is the most likely Marine unit to participate in the offensive and thus a formation to watch.

Read the full 37th Marine Brigade profile here.

8) 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade 'Magura'

This unit was by most accounts the first Ukrainian combat formation to receive foreign tanks, and of all the units listed in the Pentagon-sourced Discord leak papers as possible elements of the upcoming offensive, the 47th has had the longest time to train and prepare.

The 47th is a regular army unit with recruits coming from Kyiv, Dnipro, Odesa and Lviv. It started the war as a separate assault infantry battalion, was designated to be a full-on brigade in Nov. 2022, and according to news reports its soldiers by 2023 had amassed a good deal of combat experience, fighting primarily in the Donbas sector.

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Read the full 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade 'Magura' profile here.

9) 92nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade

The 92nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade is by many accounts the Ukrainian army’s single most effective and dangerous combined arms regular army brigade.

Since Ukraine’s independence, the 92nd has been present at practically all major fighting involving the Ukrainian army, and in 2022-23 they became a standout unit winning defensive and offensive victories in multiple sectors of the front.

No brigade has a better battle performance record than the 92nd, and repeatedly, when the Ukrainian military has needed combat results, the 92nd has received the call.

Read the full 92nd Mechanized Infantry Brigade profile here.

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