Ukrainian Troops in Action

An interesting wrap around a soldier's AK74.

An interesting wrap around a soldier's AK74.

Recently, World Conflict Films promoted some combat footage from a Ukrainian infantry battalion named the “Donbass Battalion” in action against rebels in the Ukraine. Some of the Youtube movie is very revealing as to what the Ukrainan forces are actually using in combat. The video can be watched here. It lasts for 3 minutes and 47 seconds, and is interesting from a military standpoint as to how the Ukrainians conduct their operations. But for the purposes of TFB, we’ll be looking at the small arms in use by the Infantrymen. All of the ensuing pictures are screenshots from the clip about the battalion.

This RPK74 has a scope mounted to his rifle. The soldier is actively returning fire in this scene. This particular soldier is disciplined enough to know not to fire from a window but several meters from it, thus concealing his shots. In this role, the machine gunner is utilizing himself in more of a Designated Marksman role, than as a support weapon.

This RPK74 has a scope mounted to his rifle. The soldier is actively returning fire in this scene. This particular soldier is disciplined enough to know not to fire from a window but several meters from it, thus concealing his shots. In this role, the machine gunner is utilizing himself in more of a Designated Marksman role, than as a support weapon.

Notice the sniper with SVD peering through the window at right. Also throughout the video, soldiers are taking a break on the floor while others are returning fire at the same time.

Notice the sniper with SVD peering through the window at right. Also throughout the video, soldiers are taking a break on the floor while others are returning fire at the same time.

A soldier returning fire with his RPK74 while another one takes cover.

A soldier returning fire with his RPK74 while another one takes cover.

At top left corner, a soldier is seen launching a GP30 grenade launcher.  Whether he purposely withdrew his magazine just for the grenade shot or just happened to launch one without the magazine in is unknown. This is puzzling as the platoon pictured is shown taking effective fire from the enemy.

At top left corner, a soldier is seen launching a GP30 grenade launcher. Whether he purposely withdrew his magazine just for the grenade shot or just happened to launch one without the magazine in is unknown. This is puzzling as the platoon pictured is shown taking effective fire from the enemy.

Notice the soldier with ammunition tin strapped to his back, he must be the new guy.

Notice the soldier with ammunition tin strapped to his back, he must be the new guy.

Apparently Ukrainian operators have alot in common with their American counterparts in the facial department. Notice how the stock of the AK74 in the foreground is tactically painted. And the stock on the solder on the left has a recoil pad on his rifle.

Apparently Ukrainian operators have alot in common with their American counterparts in the facial department. Notice how the stock of the AK74 in the foreground is tactically painted. And the stock on the solder on the left has a recoil pad on his rifle.

A shotgun with what appears to be a holographic sight and shell carrier.

A shotgun with what appears to be a holographic sight and shell carrier.

An interesting wrap around a soldier's AK74.

An interesting wrap around a soldier’s AK74. It seems a little surprising that despite all the modern tactical gear these soldiers have, the Kevlar’s, the vests, the goggles, the gloves, not one of them is seen with a one point sling on their weapons, instead most have the conventional type two point.

This grenadier has the same pouch carrier for his GP30 that has been in constant use by the Soviet Union since the 1970s.

This grenadier has the same pouch carrier for his GP30 that has been in constant use by the Soviet Union since the 1970s. Notice the tactical one strap backpack on the lower left.

One man is opening up ammunition supplies for 5.45x39mm, and the other is linking grenades for an automatic grenade launcher. It is interesting that civilian shooters in the States are using the same kind of 5.45 tins.

One man is opening up ammunition supplies for 5.45x39mm, and the other is linking grenades for an automatic grenade launcher. It is interesting that civilian shooters in the States are using the same kind of 5.45 tins.

What appears to be a M76 LAW rocket strapped to this soldier's back. His RPK74 has a scope attached as is evident in another picture.

What appears to be a M76 LAW rocket strapped to this soldier’s back. His RPK74 has a scope attached as is evident in another picture.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Mr Mxyzptlk

    “M76 LAW”? Do you mean an M72? Either way I doubt it, much more likely that it is an RPG-26 or one of the derivatives like the RShG-2.

    • Thanks for that! Thus I put “Appears to be”

  • guest

    Let’s make on thing perfectly clear:

    “Recently, World Conflict Films
    promoted some combat footage from a Ukrainian infantry battalion named
    the “Donbass Battalion” in action against rebels in the Ukraine.”
    The words “ukrainian infantry” may mislead the readers into believing that this is an actual infantry battalion of the ukrainian army. Or the same way that their “national guard” would be understood by native english speakers as just that – national guard, reservists etc.
    They are not. All these “namesake battalions” are volunteer units, some times not volunteers at all but made up of prisoners like the “Azov Battalion” (Azov 3 if memory serves me right, because the previous two were volunteer units but got wiped out), who are almost never military and many of them not even ex-military but people with very little combat training – basically civlians playing war.
    And there is a good reason why these are not actual professional infantry units; because those mostly switched sides, turned around, or laid down arms and deserted in the beginning of the conflict as they saw who they were sent to kill in the south-east, while the namesake-battalions are mad up of ideological fanatics who don’t have many moral reservations.

    • Nick Pacific

      Nice mix of truth and mistruth. Easily fact-checkable.
      Unfortunately for Ukraine, these volunteers aren’t playing anything. But that’s civil war for you.
      ultimately pro Russian propaganda. It’s amazing how these guys are on top of the social media game. Even on what’s supposedly a gear head blog.

      • Mr. Goseth

        Considering current media games – nothing is “easily fact checkable”.

      • Zugunder

        Yeah… Because only Russian side doing propaganda… Right…

      • guest

        Please provide then those “facts” you speak of, in you are sincere in what you said there.

        Just to remind again some recent history behind this: after Yanukovich was ousted, and Right Sector and various other groups were still standing strong at Maidan square intermediate “president” Yatzenyuk announced the creation of “National Guard”, as a specific seondary force side by side with police and army. These were his own words. And furthermore the motivation behind this was to have a force that would compensate for the “lacking” ukrainian army.
        Now please fact-checker; show me a single one of those namesake-battalions existing before Maidan riots inside the Ukrainian army. They never existed before that, it’s that simple. Azov, Donbass, Krivbass, Dnepr etc are NOT assembled from army personnel, they are NOT under the command of Ukr armed forces, and besides that the bankster Kolomoiski has his own private army of mercenaries (who I am guessing are paid far more than 1500-3000 hryvna per month) who are also an armed force NOT under the command of ukr armed forces, or anyone else besides Kolomoisky for that matter.
        And again – the name of the reserve is “zapas”, not “nazionalna gvardia” which is nothing more than a good sounding name in the ears of a native english speaker.
        So go ahead and blast me with your facts, and show exactly what I wrote that is “propaganda”. I hear that word being thrown around all the time by people who have nothing to back their argument with.

        • Toms

          All right I’m going to call your partial BS. The Donbass is a volunteer regiment that is part of the Ukrainian interior ministry (read police) and under control of the interior ministry which is military during war. While a few are right sector and Maidan protesters (Maidan is representative of a majority of the population I might add) , almost all are former military who left their better paying jobs to go back through basic training and are now serving in a military capacity for about 200-300 dollars a month. I have friends in it so I know what they make and what they think. Some of them speak Russian as a first language too. Sadly most of these guys are probably dead, as many of them were killed after Putin claimed to give them a corridor to retreat. They were wiped out when the rebels/Russian forces decided to kill them anyway. Plenty of evidence to support this including interviews with rebels and widespread media coverage of the event. They were stupid for believing the Russians anyway. Anything else to add? like the Russian army was not in Crimea, paratroopers were killed and secretly buried after a training regime not fighting in Ukraine, Strelkov has no connections with Russia, The separatists are 90% locals, flight 117 was shot down by nato, and the T72 tanks (not in Ukrainian service for 10 years) and other heavy weapons were robbed from Ukrainian bases? I can watch Russia Today too……..Got it thanks. I am American but have lived and worked in the Ukraine for many years, and speak Russian/Ukrainian.

          • guest

            What a load of nonsense. The ministry of interior is the POLICE and is in no way in charge of war, that is the ministry of defense. Ukraine is no exception. Second, they are indeed volunteer regiments, at least we agree on that, but besides that they are PARAMILITARY and are a part of so-called “territorial defense”
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_defense_battalion_%28Ukraine%29
            I don’t care much of your claim of knowing anyone given the fact that internet being what it is claims even bolder than that are being thrown around. As far as the crocodile tears, “corridors” etc, these same “territorial defense battalions” have been killing civilians by the thousands as witnessed by the ICRD and OSCE, so if they get killed that’s only positive. As far as the rest of your nonsensical babble goes I have no comments, I do not wish to debate “information” that ultimately stems from censor.net.ua and their ilk, because debating that is as fruitless as banging my head against the wall.

          • Toms

            I really feel sorry for Russians living in Russia, I really do. The robots are toeing the party line not realizing that Putin is taking Russia to a place it does not want to go. Isolation and economic free fall combined with an increasingly dictatorial leader surrounded by corrupt ass kissers makes for a crappy place to live. The only mercenaries in any number in Ukraine that I am aware of are the Chechen Vostok turds that are floating up everywhere yelling snackbar as they spray and pray into the air. Who to believe?? hummm, the whole world or Russia, North Korea, Iran, Belorussia, and half of Syria. Those are your only friends in this world now, you managed to piss of and isolate the only European Ally of any size that you had in the region (Ukraine) and make an enemy of everybody else. Very smart strategic move on Putin’s part. Oh yeah you got a couple million drunk Crimean’s in trade and a rundown navy base for what it is worth. I would like a strihz 9mm before the sanctions hit though, Russian/soviet small arms design is innovative. I’ll write and tell you how they shoot because you will never know considering Russians are not trusted by their government to own cool weapons.

          • Roman Fyodorovich von Ungern-S

            If by “the whole world” you mean Washington and London, then yes, you are right. However, in case you don’t closely follow on the events-yesterday Germany, Finland, Italy, Cyprus and Austria blocked initiative for the further santciones against Russia within the EU. To that list you can add Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia, Greece, Slovenia, Bulgaria, all of whom stated that they don’t want to sever economic ties with Russia and that the current politic of escalation pushed by the Washington is counterproductive. And that is just inside Europe.

            Asa for the Russian people, well I guess they know what they want for themselves and what is in their best interest. That’s why Putin (although generally disliked by many for a variety of reasons) is having all-time high approval ratings. Pray tell me when was the last time any US president enjoyed support of 87%.
            What bamboozled western media consumers fail to understand is that 90% of the Russians absolutely hate anything to do with words “liberalism”, “capitalism”, “western values”. Why? Becuse they were literally driven to the brink of national destruction during the nineties under those slogans and “values”. Belive it or not, there was a time during the early nineties when average Russian eagerly embraced those declarations. But after the experience of capitalism at works, with drunken putchist Yeltsin, corrupt coteries of tycoons and US economic advisers who sucked the juices out of country dry-you get Putin. Washington views only the weak and poor Russia as acceptable Russia, and as the US diplomats at the time said “it’s not fair that Russia with only 150 million people controls so vast territories and natural resources”. Russians haven’t forgotten those words, nor the treatment their ethnic kinsmen who had a misfortune of living in arbitrarily created administrative territories that sudenly became independet states endured for the past 20 years. Putin is a political dove, considering what most Russians would actually prefer in his place, if the system isn’t so rigged against loose cannons.

          • Roman Fyodorovich von Ungern-S

            “under control of the interior ministry which is military during war” true, except the Ukraine is formally NOT at war, not even state of wartime emergency has been declared. Operation has been designated as “anti terror”, and tough I’m no expert on Ukrainian constitutional law, I strongly suspect that use of Army is not envisioned against political and low level armed insurgency the rebellion in the east was in the beginning.
            National guard units are composed of man of various motivations and experience, from football hooligans and neonazi militias to ex police officers and SWAT instructors. They have however proved to be of quite limited use and capability-rebels repeatedly checked them in light infantry combat, and without regular army support they proved totally ineffective.
            The there are “territorial battalions”, raised, controlled and financed directly by local oligarchs, who are little more then a irregular mercenary bands.
            As for National guardsmen killed the other day, they were trying to break through out of encirclement, apparently exploiting miscommunication between different rebel units, as some did got out with their personal arms and vehicles, but the group you are talking about were trying to get out with all of their heavy gear, despite that conditions for letting them go stipulated that all weaponry must be handed over in good order. If that is not a an attempt of forced breakthrough and contrary to the agreed conditions, then I don’t know what is.
            AS for the rest of your claims about flight 117, dead paratroopers, T-72 (Ukrainians have hundreds of them in storage you know), regular Russian army armored columns etc. , please be kind to show us your conclusive evidence, as western intelligence services have failed to do so far.

      • dan citizen

        nothing over there is easily “fact checkable”

        I have a decent understanding of russki and have friends who get raw news feeds and personal videos from several sides of this conflict.

        Even getting direct source material, and understanding the language, it is a confusing mess. There is more propaganda, idealism, opinion, and flat out bullshit, than there is hard facts. Personal motives and familial loyalties are complicated and conflicting.

        I have spent hours listening to conversations with friends/coworkers who bridge this conflict. It will all seem to make sense and then one of them will say “But, in the 1900’s….” and a whole different set of factors gets brought in.

    • dp

      When coming up with little more involved and TRUE reality reflecting description of that messy situation, you are putting yourself at risk of collecting negative feed-back and you have to be ready for that. Well worn rule that “truth dies first” is palpable here too. This comes from perceptions, often false or half-informed, but let it pass its due course.
      However, I can read in what you write a sense of fairness (if that is ever pertinent term in war) from it and it is appreciated.
      There are reportedly volunteers and both sides and there are allegedly ‘rented out’ troops as well. It is definitely beneficial to read from various sources. Finally lets remind ourselves we are looking at tactics and lets keep it abreast of political connotations, whatever they might be. Lets thank the author for that.

      • guest

        There are not “reportedly” volunteers on both sides, but actually are and there’s no ifs or buts about it. Ukr army can not draft recruits, students, old people whoever gets the draft card into some “battalion” that is not even officially a part of ukrainian army. The cannon fodder gets sent to the army, the willing cannon fodder volunteers to one of these “battalions”, like the eerily neonazi-looking Azov battalion:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azov_Battalion#mediaviewer/File:Emblem_of_the_Azov_Battalion.svg
        Notice the “solstice”-styled swastica in the background, and the “borrowed” reversed/mirrored SS Pz.Div. “Das Reich” symbol in the forefornt:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2nd_SS_Panzer_Division_Das_Reich
        So no, there is no doubt what so ever that this is an unofficial “army” fighting alongside the official ukr armed forces.

        • Deadclock

          But shut up russianbot, the russian guys are sent to die anonymously on the front of this medieval invasion, their mothers don’t even know if they’re dead or alive and you have the courage to point your finger on a single battalion of just to trick us into believe that all the other ten of thosand of volunteers are like that? ursss’s propaganda told you that we are so stupid????Putin started this invasion and Ukraine is fighting for his indipendence so if their gvt is forced to take every resource that can to defend his freedom it’s not it’s fault, even cause until now the un observers have only condemned the prorussian rebels for crime against the population; this mean that It’s not your name or your brand that define you but goodwill of your intention, and if you look at the deceptive, coward and mean attitude adopted by Putin and his invisible army who claim to be in ukraine just for holyday, you could easily see that this time the REAL nazi are by the other part of the barricade

          • guest

            In the deranged drivel you just shat out this stands as the pinnacle of ignorance and stupidity, of which only a die-hard brainwashed russia hater is capable of:

            “.., even cause until now the un observers have only condemned the prorussian rebels for crime against the population;…”
            So let me then lecture you on reality, since you have obviously mentally a wreck like a derailed train car: the OSCE observers and the ICRC are the only relatively neutral, and they have been on both sides of the barricades and have conducted extensive oservations and coverage of the conflict.
            They have NOT reported any military equipment being moved across the border from Russia into Ukraine, they have visited the bombed out towns, seen the mutilated corpses of artillery, white phospohorous and MLRS attacks, and all collectively said it is the UKRAINIAN part that’s doing the warcrimes around there. They have also been swarming like bees around the beforementioned border crossings, and have seen only russian border check points shelled from Ukraine, and thus far the only casualties to die from attacks across the border is if memory serves me right a russian farmer who was killed in his house from a mine shot from the ukrainian side.
            So you can take your censor.net.ua drivel, along with Hromadskye.tv and Kanal 5 and shove it deep and hard in a place you know all too well.

            Lastly, if Putin would have attacked Ukraine (mainland, not that russian peninsula they have reclaimed), Poroshenko& the maidan bunch would already be long gone, and there would be russian border guards on the Poland border. Sadly this has not happened, but it has not prevented fanatics from accusing Russia of doing just that.

          • Roman Fyodorovich von Ungern-S

            Angry, angry young man

    • USMC03Vet

      I’ve been wondering why Ukraine which has a fairly sizable military and armaments hasn’t gotten into full force fighting yet. I remember back when Crimea happened the naval station that defected and have heard about a couple of hundred troops defecting, but there are mass defecting that they need to call up randoms for conscription?

      • toms

        There has been no mass defection. A few hundred at most, and that was early on for the most part. Defectors were paid quiet well for bringing in their equipment. The Ukrainian military is a shadow of its previous strength. His co-conspirators also robbed all capital and world bank indicates that the money lost are over 50 billion dollars. The previous leader stripped the military from about 150,000 down to about 9,000 combat effectives when he ran way in February. Since then, Ukraine has been steadily strengthening its capabilities but has a severe shortage of key equipment such as attack helicopters, modern comms, modern vehicles, and planes. The main holdback to full mobilization has been two things: a few old timer and suspect members of the government who are carrie-overs from the last regime blocking full mobilization as well as Germany and EU regs precluding financial help to countries in a state of full mobilization/war. Handicapped by this Ukraine has only been able to mobilize 15,000-20,000 troops per training cycle instead of 30-40K which is their capacity. All told they have about 60,000 combat effectives now but only a couple dozen air worthy helicopters. Against Russian coordinated/manned air defense and artillery systems they are combat ineffective.

  • Анатолий Сорока

    ” switched sides, turned around, or laid down arms and deserted … they were sent to kill in the south-east … ideological fanatics who don’t have many moral reservations … but made up of prisoners like the “Azov Battalion” – you watch too much Russia Today channel, Mr.

    • Jennifer Lowe

      We have a family friend who was captured by the Ukrainians turned over to their national guard troops, tortured and then chained to a tree next to an artillery target. Friends of yours? The same ones who shelled churches, hospitals and schools, killing his family no doubt.

  • Johannes Axner

    The “interesting wrap” is a tourniqet. Soviet soldiers used to wrap them around foldable skeleton stocks and keep their medkit inside it. With modern stocks they just wrap the tourniqet around the stock.

  • Karl

    Whats the brightly colored adhesive tape for? Unit designation?

    • Ignatius

      To prevent friendly fire as both sides are using the same uniforms, they’re also doing the same thing with their helicopters.

      • GUNxSPECTRE

        That commentary in and of itself is pretty sad.

  • nanoc

    Looks like they are inside a school.

  • I’ll just leave this Ukrainian military ad here:

    • USMC03Vet

      brb, enlisting…..

  • mosinman

    this is fascinating. it’s neat to see what weapons the Ukrainian army uses.
    does the yellow tape denote what battalion they are? or is it for quick friend or foe ID?

    • whodywei

      It’s for quick friend or foe ID, the pro Russian rebels are using Georgian Ribbons.

      • mosinman

        neat, thanks.

  • Lance

    Thant NOT a M-72 LAW Miles thats a RPG-18/22 which was the Soviet copy of the M-72. I do enjoy seeing some sweet looking wood stocked AK-74s in use. Seems we dont need all the tacti cool crap to win. Ukraine was doing very well against Pro Russian rebels before Russia’s Army moved in to stop there offensive.

    • Lance

      Ohh I still see alot of AKMs in use as well seems like since Ukraine was forced to draft alot of people in a hurry they had to use older stored weapons like AKMs more. both AKM and AKMS seen the the pictures. Remember no AK-74 in Soviet/CIS use had under folding stocks (they had side folders). So some of those AKs are AKMS in the pics.

      • Yellow Devil

        It’s quite possible some units may prefer the 7.62X39mm round over the 5.45X39mm round for urban fighting (penetration over flatter trajectory), but you are probable correct.

    • Yep, boot move on my part.

  • dan citizen

    In the last photo that is more likely an RPG-26. Notice the flange around the end of the tube.

    There are several other similar eastern launchers, I am not very familiar with them.

  • USMC03Vet

    Tactical glow belts.

    SgtMaj was right!

    • nadnerbus

      With all that camo, a soldier could get lost! Safety first!

      Yes I know it’s to distinguish friend from foe, but not so far fetched in today’s US military.

  • rgrge

    Guys the Donbass battalion is not part of the Ukrainian army, they are a loyalist militia. Many if not most of their members were not in the military.

  • Leo

    Ukrainian soldiers looks well equipped, I am happy for that. I am happy that they have all they need at this point fighting monster putin.

  • AngryBirdman

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcqTQ6m6xmg Here you have very well done german tv documentary, that uses aforementioned footage. Its in german, but there are english subtitles as well. The neonazi theme is heavily used as a propaganda tool by pro russian forces. The whole premise is based on the fact that far right wingers are among the best organized groups in Ukrainian political scene, albeit they do not constitute majority of it. Some volunteer battalions draw their manpower from such groups or members of soccer fanclubs that are prone to white supremacists ideology. There are also units that were built around the core of private security companies funded or owned by oligarchs. Russians try to portrait them as the foreguard of Western Europe that consists solely of perverts and fascists – with good amount of greedy juuuice too 🙂
    Ironically, Russians also have well developed neonazi movement that likes to show off with aryan/slavic symbols like black sun/kolovrat.

  • jzb

    These are the bastards who are killing their own countrymen. Imaging for a second that Democrats protested a Republican president, then held a coup and took over. Now Imagine The Democrats sent the US army out to attack every state that hold a majority Republican vote. That is whats happening in Ukraine. I have family there near Donetsk and my in-laws town is bombed every night and several of their neighbors have been killed. Not because they support Russia, but because they live in a region that mainly speaks russian and the new Ukraine government is promising land to their soldiers by forcing out their own russian speaking countrymen and trying to make them move to Russia. It’s a terrible thing happening over there and it was sponsored by Obama.

    • Jennifer Lowe

      Americans are too stupid to understand this. They only know “Putin bad”, like little babies they must be told what to think even though their eyes tell them different.

  • mkc
  • petru sova

    Lets look at history, something few Americans know anything about especially their own. The Russians at the end of WWII invaded and occupied even more countries than the German Nazi’s did. The Russians are hated by the people who are still under their thumb. Ukraine has many ethnic Germans and Romanians living there who would be overjoyed never to see another Russian in another 100 years. The next big battle state will be Moldavia which was the Russians stole from Romanian at the end of WWII. The Romanians are currently giving citizenship to all Romanians living in Moldavia so that they can vote their state free of Russian domination but the Russian transplants are inviting Putler to invade Moldavia next. The West will do nothing to stop Putler as the very small sanctions are hurting the West way more than it is hurting the Russians who are shifting their trade to the far east especially China. Putler can invade both countries at will and he knows it.