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​Ukrainian "Kraken" Elite Unit in Vanguard of the Kharkiv Counteroffensive

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​Ukrainian "Kraken" Elite Unit in Vanguard of the Kharkiv Counteroffensive

One of the "youngest" units of the Ukrainian army handled tasks of operational to strategic importance in northeastern Ukraine

"Kraken" is an elite unit of Ukrainian defense forces established shortly after the start of russian invasion, and pretty soon it was involved in important operations agianst russian forces, particularly in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine. The battle history of the Kraken unit serving under the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine was recorded by the 057.ua

Its story begins long before actual establishment: half a year before russia launched its military offense on Ukraine, the servicemen of the future unit had already known the war was coming. Officers of the Defense Intelligence and veterans of the Azov Regiment initiated courses for those who volunteered to military training, with 3,000 trainees going through. These activities later helped to quickly gather personnel for the creation of a new unit in February, as the war broke out: 900 people arrived in the first several hours, and in 4 days there already were 1,500 soldiers in the unit.

Read more: ​Approached Without a Single Shot: Ukrainian Elites’ Raid Tactics
KRAKEN special unit
Photo credit: KRAKEN

Kraken is a reconnaissance-and-saboteur unit by purpose. The first operation took place on March 25, when Kraken managed to push the russian occupiers out of Vilkhivka village and thus thwart the plans of russian advance along the Kharkiv–Chuhuiv axis. As noted by the authors of the article, "the success of this operation has a strategic importance for stabilization of the frontline and further de-occupation of Mala Rohan village".

On April 29, the "Kraken" liberated the Ruska Lozova village. It is a settlement 16 km from Kharkiv, from where the russian artillery was shelling the second largest city of Ukraine. Here is what one of the elite unit's battalion commanders Kostiantyn Nemichev said back in the day:

"This is a strategically important settlement located on the Kharkiv-Belgorod road. It was from this suburb during the occupation that the enemy fired at the civilian infrastructure and residential areas of Kharkiv."

The situation on Ukrianian frontlines as of April 29, 2022; Deep State UA
The situation on Ukrainian frontlines as of April 29, 2022 / Credit: Deep State UA

However, in order to keep the village under control, they needed to push the russians from another settlement, Pytomnyk, which was located on high ground and was another firing spot of russian artillery. So the settlement was liberated by Kraken on May 10 and they took on the defense for two weeks. Despite the unit was intended to accomplish other kinds of tasks, the soldiers managed to hold on until the reinforcements of the Armed Forces of Ukraine arrived. Replaced by the regular army, the special operations unit dispatched for other missions. One of them was the raid on Bilohorivka, which Defense Express covered in a separate article.

The defense of Pytomnyk village, June 12, 2022
The defense of Pytomnyk village, June 12, 2022 / Photo credit: KRAKEN

Another page of the unit's history worth noting is the participation in the Kharkiv counteroffensive, which began, as a reminder, with the successful liberation of Balakliia city in the Kharkiv region, and it was Kraken in the vanguard of this operation. Then the unit advanced on Kupiansk and crossed the Oskil river to not let the russians create defense on the other side of the water obstacle.

Chronicles of the Kupiansk Offensive Operation by Kraken:

Ukraine's counterattack proceeded at a fast pace, a senior officer of the Kraken unit told the Finnish "Iltalehti" newspaper in a recent interview. The officer said, one of the reasons for the rapid progress was the "know-how" of the Ukrainian elite forces, such as Kraken. According to him, Kraken's reputation also accelerated good results:

"When the Russians heard that they were facing Kraken fighters, they retreated quickly," said the Ukrainian officer nicknamed Vito. Commanders of russian forces abandoned their troops and fled. "The russians panicked and many surrendered with all their military machinery and equipment."

Soldiers of Kraken special unit in front of the captured russian BMP-1AM Basurmanin after the liberation of Kupisansk-Vuzlovyi, October 2022
Soldiers of Kraken special unit in front of the captured russian BMP-1AM "Basurmanin" after the liberation of Kupisansk-Vuzlovyi, October 2022 / Photo credit: KRAKEN

The counteroffensive operation progressed into the liberation of Kupiansk-Vuzlovyi settlement on the entanglement of railways and five more smaller settlements. According to the 057.ua, Ukrainian army faced against the following units of russian army and came out victorious: 27th, 55th and 200th motorized infantry brigades, 61st marine brigade, units of "Wagner" PMC and the "Bars" detachment. The counteroffensive of Ukrainian force is still ongoing east of the Oskil river.

Read more: Ukraine’s Kraken Unit Uses the MT-LB Mounted With the 100mm MT-12 Rapira Anti-Tank Gun (Video)