Russian Orthodox Army

Last updated

Russian Orthodox Army
(Русская православная армия)
Participant in War in Donbass
Flag of the Russian Orthodox Army.svg
Flag of the Russian Orthodox Army
ActiveMay 2014–present
Ideology Russian nationalism [1] [2]
Russian Orthodox extremism [3]
Anti-Ukraine [4]
Anti-Catholicism [4] [5] [6]
Anti-Protestantism [6]
Leader Igor Girkin [3]
Headquarters Donetsk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine
Area of operations Donbass, Ukraine
Size4,000 [3]
Part ofWar Flag of Novorussia.svg United Armed Forces of Novorossiya
Battles and war(s) War in Donbass

The Russian Orthodox Army (Russian : Русская православная армия, Russkaya pravoslavnaya armiya) is a militant group in Ukraine that was founded in May 2014, as part of the insurgency and following War in Donbass. [1] It reportedly had 100 members at the time of its founding, including locals and Russian volunteers. As fighting between separatists and the Ukrainian government worsened in Donbass, their membership rose to 350, and later 4,000. [3] Notable engagements of the ROA include the June 2014 skirmishes in Mariupol and Amvrosiivka Raion. [7] The headquarters of the ROA is located in an occupied Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) building in Donetsk city. [8] Members had no special training apart from the usual conscription service in the army [9] and swore allegiance to Igor Girkin ("Strelkov"), insurgent and Minister of Defence of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic. Along with other separatist groups in the region, the ROA has been noted of "kidnapp[ing], beat[ing], and threaten[ing] Protestants, Catholics, and members of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church… as well as participat[ing] in anti-Semitic acts." [4]

June 8, 2014 the group murdered pentecostals in Slaviansk.

In late November 2014, the group gained attention after abducting prominent Ukrainian Greek Catholic priest, Sergeii Kulbaka, and Roman Catholic priest, Father Pawel Witek. [5] [6] According to the Defence Ministry of Ukraine, the ROA has also been in conflict with another pro-Russian militia, the Vostok Battalion, which accused the ROA of looting, and of avoiding combat. [10] [11]


Related Research Articles

79th Air Assault Brigade (Ukraine)

The 79th Air Assault Brigade is a formation of the Ukrainian Air Assault Forces. The brigade is based in Mykolaiv.

2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine Anti-government demonstrations in Ukraine after the Euromaidan movement

From the end of February 2014, demonstrations by pro-Russian and anti-government groups took place in major cities across the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, in the aftermath of the Euromaidan movement and the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. During the first stage of the unrest, known as the "Russian Spring", the Ukrainian territory of Crimea was annexed by the Russian Federation after a Russian military intervention, and an internationally criticized Crimean referendum. Protests in Donetsk and Luhansk regions (oblasts) escalated into an armed pro-Russian separatist insurgency. From late 2014, cities outside of the Donbass combat zone, such as Kharkiv, Odessa, Kiev and Mariupol, were struck by bombings that targeted pro-Ukrainian unity organizations. To maintain control over southern and eastern Ukraine, the government launched an "Anti-Terrorist Operation" (ATO), sending in the armed forces to quell the unrest.

Donetsk Peoples Republic unrecognized state claiming independence from Ukraine

The Donetsk People's Republic is a self-proclaimed state in the eastern Ukrainian Oblast of Donetsk. The proto-state is recognised only by the partially recognised South Ossetia and Russian-backed proto-state Luhansk People's Republic (LPR). The capital city and largest city within the DPR is Donetsk. The current head of state is Denis Pushilin.

Timeline of the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine

This is a timeline of the 2014 pro-Russian unrest that has erupted in Ukraine, in the aftermath of the Ukrainian revolution and the Euromaidan movement.

Separatist forces of the war in Donbass militias and armed volunteer groups affiliated with the Union of Novorossiya

Separatist forces of the War in Donbass, or the United Armed Forces of Novorossiya, is the umbrella name for the militias and armed volunteer groups affiliated with the unrecognized political union called Novorossiya. It consists of the Donbass People's Militia, the Luhansk People's Militia and autonomous armed groups. They are regarded as terrorist groups by the Government of Ukraine.

Siege of Sloviansk Siege during the Donbass conflict

The Siege of Sloviansk was an operation by the Armed Forces of Ukraine to recapture the city of Sloviansk in Donetsk Oblast from pro-Russian insurgents who had seized it on 12 April 2014. The city was taken back on 5 July 2014 after shelling from artillery and heavy fighting. The fighting in Sloviansk marked the first major military engagement between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces, in the first runoff of battles of 2014.

War in Donbass Ongoing armed conflict in the Donbass region of Ukraine

The War in Donbass is an armed conflict in the Donbass region of Ukraine, part of the Ukrainian crisis and the broader Russo-Ukrainian War. From the beginning of March 2014, protests by anti-government, pro-Russian groups took place in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine, collectively called the "Donbass", in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution and the Euromaidan movement. These demonstrations, which followed the February–March 2014 annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and which were part of a wider group of concurrent protests across southern and eastern Ukraine, escalated into an armed conflict between the separatist forces of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, and the Ukrainian government. While the initial protests were largely native expressions of discontent with the new Ukrainian government, Russia took advantage of them to launch a co-ordinated political and military campaign against Ukraine. Russians citizens led the separatist movement in Donetsk from April until August 2014, and were supported by volunteers and materiel from Russia. As the conflict escalated in May 2014, Russia employed a "hybrid approach", deploying a combination of disinformation tactics, irregular fighters, regular Russian troops, and conventional military support to destabilise the Donbass region. According to the Ukrainian government, at the height of the conflict in the summer of 2014, Russian paramilitaries were reported to make up between 15% to 80% of the combatants.

Battle of Mariupol (May–June 2014)

During the rising unrest in Ukraine in the aftermath of the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, the city of Mariupol, in Donetsk Oblast, saw skirmishes break out between Ukrainian government forces, local police, separatist militants affiliated with the Donetsk People's Republic. Government forces withdrew from Mariupol on 9 May 2014 after heavy fighting left the city's police headquarters gutted by fire. These forces maintained checkpoints outside the city. Intervention by Metinvest steelworkers on 15 May 2014 led to the removal of barricades from the city centre, and the resumption of patrols by local police. Separatists continued to operate a headquarters in another part of the city until their positions were overrun in a government offensive on 13 June 2014.

First Battle of Donetsk Airport

The First Battle of Donetsk Airport was a conflict between separatist insurgents associated with the Donetsk People's Republic and Ukrainian government forces that took place at Donetsk International Airport on 26–27 May 2014, as part of the War in Donbass that began after the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. A second battle broke out at the airport on 28 September 2014.

Donbas Battalion volunteer unit of the National Guard of Ukraine

The 2nd Battalion of Special Assignment "Donbas" is a unit of the National Guard of Ukraine subordinated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine and based in Severodonetsk. Originally created in 2014 as a volunteer unit called the Donbas Battalion by Semen Semenchenko following the Russian occupation of Crimea and possible invasion of continental Ukraine. The formation of the unit started in the spring of 2014 during the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine. The unit was initially formed as an independent force, but has been since fully integrated into the National Guard as the 2nd Special Purpose Battalion "Donbas" within the 15th Regiment of the National Guard.

Alexander Zakharchenko Head and Prime Minister of the Donetsk Peoples Republic

Alexander Vladimirovich Zakharchenko was a separatist leader who was the head of state and Prime Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic, a self-proclaimed state and rebel group which declared independence from Ukraine on 11 May 2014. Zakharchenko was appointed Prime Minister in August 2014 after his predecessor, Alexander Borodai, resigned, and went on to win the early November 2014 election for the position.

During the ongoing war between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatist insurgents in the Donbass region of Ukraine that began in April 2014, many international organisations and states noted a deteriorating humanitarian situation in the conflict zone.

Special forces of Ukraine

Like all post-Soviet states, Ukraine inherited its special forces (Spetsnaz) units from the remnants of the Soviet armed forces, GRU and KGB units. Ukraine now maintains its own Spetsnaz structure under the control of the Ministry of Interior, and under the Ministry of Defense, while the Security Service of Ukraine maintains its own Spetsnaz force, the Alpha group. The term "Alpha" is also used by many other post Soviet states such as Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan as these units are based on the Soviet Union's Alpha Group.

Volnovakha bus attack

The Volnovakha bus attack was an attack on a highway checkpoint near the village of Buhas outside of the Volnovakha municipality in the Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on 13 January 2015. It resulted in the deaths of 12 passengers of an intercity bus and injuries to 18 others in the area. The attack was the largest single loss of life since the signing of the Minsk Protocol in September 2014, which attempted to halt the ongoing War in Donbass. The incident has been labeled an "act of terror" by both the Ukrainian authorities as well as the rebels.

January 2015 Mariupol rocket attack

An attack on Mariupol was launched on 24 January 2015 by pro-Russian forces associated with the Donetsk People's Republic against the strategic maritime city of Mariupol, defended by Ukrainian government forces. Mariupol had come under attack multiple times in the past year in the course of the War in Donbass, including in May–June 2014, when the city was under the control of pro-Russian forces; and the September 2014 offensive.

Shyrokyne standoff (February–July 2015)

The Shyrokyne standoff was a battle for the control of the strategic village of Shyrokyne, located approximately 11 km (6.8 mi) east of Mariupol city limits, between Ukrainian forces, led by the Azov Battalion, and Russian backed separatists. It is part of the larger War in Donbass. On 10 February 2015, the Azov battalion launched a surprise offensive against pro-Russian separatists associated with the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) with the aim of pushing the separatist forces away from Mariupol city limits. The village is located just 10 km (6.2 mi) from the Ukrainian-controlled city of Mariupol, and was used as a launching point for separatist attacks on the city, which served as the administrative centre of Donetsk Oblast whilst DPR forces control Donetsk city. Fighting continued until 3 July 2015, when DPR forces unilaterally withdrew from Shyrokyne. Subsequently a cease-fire was declared in the area.

Special Tasks Patrol Police (Ukraine)

The Special Tasks Patrol Police of Ukraine is the volunteer corps of law enforcement units, part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It was originally created for prevention of criminal encroachment and defence of civil order on 15 April 2014, following Russian invasion to Ukraine.

Special Operations Forces (Ukraine)

The Special Operations Forces are one of the five branches of the Ukrainian armed forces, with its headquarters in Kiev, Ukraine.

Timeline of the War in Donbass (2014)

This is a timeline of the War in Donbass for the year 2014.

Timeline of the War in Donbass (2015)

This is a timeline of the War in Donbass for the year 2015.


  1. 1 2 "У самопровозглашенной Донецкой республики появилась новая армия — Русская православная (In the self-proclaimed republic of Donetsk, a new army - Russian Orthodox)". InfoResist (in Russian). 10 May 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  2. Самопроголошеному міністру оборони "ДНР" І. Стрєлкову інкримінується створення терористичної організації та вчинення терактів в Україні [Strelkova, the self-proclaimed minister of defence of the DNR terrorist organization, charged with creating and committing acts of terrorism in Ukraine]. Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine (in Ukrainian). 21 May 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Meet the Russian Orthodox Army, Ukrainian Separatists' Shock Troops". NBC News. 16 May 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 United States Department of State (2015). International Religious Freedom Report for 2014 (Report). Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  5. 1 2 Liubchenkova, Natalia (20 November 2014). "Surviving the 'Russian Orthodox Army'". The Media Project. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  6. 1 2 3 Wiser, Daniel (15 October 2015). "Russia Targets Christians, Religious Minorities in Ukraine". The Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  7. "В Мариуполе бойцы Ляшко задержали представителя "Русской православной армии" (In Mariupol Ljashko fighters detained by "Russian Orthodox army")". Mariupol News (in Russian). 13 June 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  8. "Репортаж из казармы Русской Православной Армии (Reports of Russian Orthodox Army barracks)". (in Russian). 17 June 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  9. Baczynska, Gabriela (2 June 2014). "Quoting Old Testament, New Pro-Russia Militia Group Lines Up in Ukraine". Charisma News. Retrieved 21 January 2017.
  10. Daryna Krasnolutska; Tony Capaccio; Volodymyr Verbyany (27 July 2014). "Ukraine Army Advances as EU Plans Tougher Putin Sanctions". Bloomberg News . Retrieved 16 January 2015.
  11. Сили АТО знищили снайперів у Лисичанську [ATO forces destroyed snipers in Lysychansk]. Ukrayinska Pravda (in Ukrainian). 26 July 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2015.