Volunteer Defence Forces of territorial communities (VDF)
Ukraine has been defending against Russian aggression since early 2014 when Russia forcibly seized Crimea and parts of the Donbas region. The war with Russia entered a new stage in February 2022 when Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine aimed at a rapid and complete takeover of the country and the eradication of Ukraine as a nation. Russia’s invasion has been indiscriminate, killing not only soldiers, but huge numbers of civilians.
The first phase of Russia’s invasion failed due to heroic Ukrainian resistance supported by the supply of vital military equipment from allies, as well as strategic and operational shortcomings in the Russian military. On a number fronts (principally in the North and North-East) Russian forces reeled back to their start-lines, leaving behind destruction, chaos and scenes of atrocity on a scale not-seen in Europe since World War Two. Against such an enemy the whole of Ukraine’s population needs to be prepared and protected.
The defeat of the initial invasion was a major victory for Ukraine, inflicting significant damage on the Russian army and compelling the enemy to reorganise and rethink. But this initial victory came at huge human and material cost, with Ukraine forced to call-up large numbers of reserves in four waves of mobilisation to meet the emergency. The war has now entered a new and dangerous phase. The Russians have learnt the lessons of the early days, concentrating their considerable resources and firepower on objectives in the East and South of the country.
Having first thought to lance Ukraine to its heart, the Russian army is now using a club to smash and bludgeon its way forward, grinding down Ukrainian defences using terrifying and indiscriminate artillery barrages. It is a brutal way-of-war at which Russia is highly adept. This is now a long war of attrition in which numbers tell, and the maths is not on Ukraine’s side. Ukraine must marshal every able person to survive the onslaught that wants to stamp out the light of her existence. It is in this context of a long war, in which Ukraine’s very survival is at stake, that the Volunteer Defence Forces constitute an essential component of Ukraine’s war effort.
Volunteer Defence Force units are formed by patriotic and motivated people at the local level, ensuring a ‘grassroots’ movement that is known, trusted, and supported by their communities. This local connection significantly enables the units to better perform their tasks. Formed by law and under the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, VDF perform both military and civil-military tasks, including:
- Defence of Ukrainian territory from military aggression
- Protection of civilian population
- Assistance to emergency services and local authorities
- Education and training of citizens in civil defence
- Security of critical infrastructure and counter-sabotage action
- Countering enemy information operations
VDF in Lviv Oblast
Lviv Oblast is threatened by Russian and Belarusian forces deployed on the border, only 180 km away, and the whole Oblast is comfortably within range of Russian Iskander Short-Range Ballistic Missiles in Belarus. Lviv is regularly hit by Russian cruise missiles fired from the Black Sea, and enemy sabotage groups are also active. All this enemy activity is aimed at causing maximum disruption to the area, as the Lviv Oblast is vital to sustaining Ukraine’s war effort, as well as being temporary home to over 400,000 refugees who have fled the invaders.
In order to successfully defend itself in a long war against Russian aggression it is crucial that Ukraine protects its people, utilises all its available manpower, and ensures a continued and uninterrupted flow of vital supplies from the West. Lviv Oblast Volunteer Defence Forces are central to realising these objectives by protecting critical infrastructure from attack and, in doing so, relieving regular military and Territorial Defence Forces of security tasks, freeing them up for combat roles elsewhere in the country. Over 20,000 have been registered with the Volunteer Defence Forces, with over 5,000 trained to date.
DEFENCE OF MOTHERLAND
WITH EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE
PATRIOTISM WITHOUT POLITICS