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Group of Soviet soldiers, in the foreground starshina with appropriate insignia introduced in 1943 (Bulgaria, 1944). Red Army Soldiers in Bulgaria 1944.jpg
Group of Soviet soldiers, in the foreground starshina with appropriate insignia introduced in 1943 (Bulgaria, 1944).

Starshina (Russian:старшина,IPA:  [stərʂɨˈna] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) en:master sergeant [1] ) or Starshyna in Ukrainian transliteration is a senior non-commissioned rank or designation in the military forces of some Slavic states. In army terminology, a starshina is equivalent to "First Sergeant" (Most senior member at the company level) or a rank equal to a NATO OR-8. In naval terminology, starshina is a general term for junior and middle-ranking non-commissioned officers, similar in usage to "Petty Officer".


The word originates from the Russian word старший, starshij, literally meaning "older, more senior", from старый staryj "old".

Cossack Hetmanate

Among Cossacks in Ukraine, starshyna was a collective noun for categories of military officers and state officials. It derived from the offices in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Sharshyna was subdivided into:

Later, sometime after the Khmelnytsky's Uprising, it was also associated with the Ukrainian nobility which derived out of the officership and the Hetman.

Imperial Russia

Later, in the Tsardom of Russia and Imperial Russia, a volostnoy starshina was the chief of a volost (a rural administrative unit), in charge of the distribution of taxes, resolving conflicts within obshchina (communes), distributing community lands and military conscription. The rank of Voiskovoi starshina (Войсковой старшина – Starshina of the Army (Host)) was introduced into the ranks of the Imperial military in 1826, as the equivalent of a "Lieutenant Colonel" in the Cossack cavalry.

Soviet Union and Russian Federation

Russia-Army-OR-8-2010.svg Russia-Airforce-OR-8-2010.svg
Army and air force insignia
CountryFlag of Russia.svg  Russia
Service branchFlag of the Russian ground forces.svg  Russian Ground Forces
Flag of the Air Force of the Russian Federation.svg  Russian Air Force
Rank group Non-commissioned officer
Next higher rank Praporshchik
Next lower rankStárshy serzhánt
Equivalent ranks Glavny starshina of the ship

The word starshina gained its modern meaning in the Red Army, and is a hangover from the functional titles (like "Brigade Commander" or "Assistant Platoon Leader") that were initially used by that force – the word literally means "senior". Most functional titles in the Red Army were abolished in 1942, but starshina remained. Starshina was the highest non-commissioned rank in the Soviet Army until the reintroduction of the imperial rank of Praporshchik in 1972.

In the Soviet Navy, the term starshina was introduced between 1940 and 1943 as term equivalent to "Petty Officer" for every enlisted seaman above " Matros, 1st class." There was also created a rank equal to starshina in the Army, but termed Glavnyy korabel'nyy starshina (transl.Chief Petty Officer of the Ship) – this is the naval rank depicted in the tables below.

Insignia in the Red Army (1919–1946) and Soviet Armed Forces (1946–1991)

Soviet Red Star Insignia.png RA I K2a 1924v.jpg 1935-i-pg06v.png RA I Starshina 1941v.png RA-SA A-engin R8FirstSg 1955.png RA-SA A R8FirstSg 1955field.gif SA A-inf R8FirstSg 1963v.svg SA AF R8FirstSg 1963v.svg RAF N R8Starshina 1924-1940.gif Rank insignia of glavnyi korabel'nyi starshina of the Soviet Navy.svg Pogon starshiny VVS s 2010 goda.png
RA OR8-Starshina 1919v1.svg
collar insignia
collar insignia
Ground combat troops
Ground forces
Air force,
airborne forces,
air defence forces
Air force, airborne forces

Insignia in the Russian Federation

Russian Federation
RFAF - Starshina - Every day green.png Russia-Army-OR-8-1994-field.svg Russia-Navy-OR-8-1994-everyday.svg RAF AF-ABTr R8Kursant 2010.png Rus starshina field.svg Pogon starshiny VVS s 2010 goda.png Starshina VV(R).png Russia-Police-OR-8-2013.svg Rank insignia of glavnyi korabel'nyi starshina 2 of the Soviet Navy.svg
Strategic Missile Troops,

Airborne Forces (service dress)

Ground Forces
(service dress)

(dress uniform)

Air Force and Airborne Forces

kursant ("cadet") with rank of Starshina
(dress uniform)

Field dress
Air force, airborne forces
Internal troops
Ministry of Emergency Situations (firefighters)
Militsiya, police,

some internal troops

(dress uniform)
(after 2010)

Other languages and countries

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  2. The President approved new unilateral items and insignia of the Armed Forces of Ukraine /Президент затвердив нові предмети однострою та знаки розрізнення Збройних Сил України