Ukrainian People's Army

The Ukrainian People's Army ( _uk. Армія Української Народної Республіки), also known as the Ukrainian National Army (UNA), was the military of the Ukrainian People's Republic. It was formed in 1917, when Ukraine declared its independence from the Russian Empire, during the Russian civil war. The Ukrainian People's Army fought Soviet forces until it was defeated in 1921, in the Ukrainian-Soviet War and Polish-Soviet War. Unlike the Ukrainian Galician Army, the Ukrainian People's Army was highly disorganized, and consisted mostly of volunteer units, not regulars.cite web|url=|title=Army of the Ukrainian National Republic|accessdate=2007-12-20|work=Encyclopedia of Ukraine] __NOTOC__



When the Tsentralna Rada (Central Rada) came to power in Ukraine, it was forced to promptly put together an army to defend Ukraine against the Bolsheviks. Nearly all units of the newly created army were detached from the Imperial Russian Army, with the exception of the Sich Riflemen, formerly a Austro-Hungarian unit. At the time, the Central Rada did not see the need for a standing army, reinforced by conscription. Instead, a 'Free Cossack' concept, (which was no different from a militia) was introduced and ratified in November 1917. Only when the Bolsheviks invaded the Ukrainian People's Republic, in December 1917, was the need for a regular standing army appreciated. The new organization was to include; eight infantry corps and four cavalry divisions. But these plans were never realized, as the Rada was overthrown in a coup led by Pavlo Skoropadsky, who brought the Hetmanate to power in Ukraine. A temporary peace treaty with the Bolsheviks was also signed on 12 June 1918.cite web |url= |title=Ukrainian-Soviet War, 1917–21|accessdate=2008-01-30 |work=Encyclopedia of Ukraine ]

After taking power, the Hetmanate government established its own plans for a standing army. These were to consist of 310,000 military personnel divided into in eight territorial corps, with an annual budget of 1,254 million karbovantsi. However, this army did not develop beyond the organizational stage, due to many dissident movements and gross unpopularity of the Hetmanate amongst peasants and civilians. In November 1918, the Directorate came to power in Ukraine, bringing with it yet another vision for the structure of the army. During this time, most units simply crossed from the Hetmanate to the Directorate with little organizational change occurring.

War of Independence

The Bolsheviks first invaded the Ukrainian People's Republic in January 1918.cite web |url= |title=Ukraine - World War I and the struggle for independence |accessdate=2008-01-30 |work=Encyclopædia Britannica] After several weeks of battle, the Red Army overwhelmed the fairly small Ukrainian force, and took Kiev on February 9. This forced the Central Rada to seek help from the Central powers of World War I. After signing the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Ukrainian Army was to receive assistance in fighting the Red Army. A German-Austrian offensive removed the Bolsheviks from Kiev in early March, and the Rada government returned to the capital. In April, the Red Army was forced to completely retreat from Ukraine, and a peace treaty was signed.

In December 1918, after the Directorate's coming to power, the army reached its peak at an estimated 300,000 recruits. In January 1919, Ukraine declared war on Soviet Russia, after the latter established a provisional government in Kharkiv, proclaiming the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Simultaneously, the West Ukrainian People's Republic had taken Lviv, thereby beginning a war with the Second Polish Republic. In January 1919, the Ukrainian People's Army and the Ukrainian Galician Army united, after the West Ukrainian People's Republic had been completely occupied by Polish forces, and Kiev by Soviet forces. [Abbott p.19] Symon Petlyura became the commander in chief of the new Ukrainian Army. But the united armies suffered severe casualties in their suicidal war against the Polish army, Denikin's Whites and the Bolsheviks. Therefore, Ukraine signed an armistice with the Entente and later with Poland on May 1919. [Abbott p.18]

After failing to capture Kiev on their own, the Ukrainian army signed the Treaty of Warsaw with Poland, in April 1920. [Davies, "White Eagle...", Polish edition, p.99-103] Under the treaty, Ukrainian forces fought side by side with Polish forces against Soviet Russia and other Ukrainian 'Red' movements (Denikin, the Germans and the Entente had long since been expelled from Ukraine). Following a decisive failure in the Kiev Offensive, Ukrainian presence only decreased in the seesaw Polish-Soviet war. [Abbott, p.20] Until finally the newly founded Soviet Union and Poland signed the Treaty of Riga on March 18, 1921, ending the war. The small remnants of the Ukrainian People's army either resorted to Guerrilla warfare or joined the Polish Army.


The original structure of the army, as designated by the Tsentralna Rada, planned to organize an optimistic eight infantry corps and four cavalry divisions. But these plans were never realized due to the internal struggle for power in Ukraine. Instead, the army was hastily formed of various armed volunteer units and 'Free Cossacks'. But in May 1919 (long after the Directorate assumed power), the Ukrainian people's army was forced to reorganize after its manpower dropped from 300,000 to 15,000 in just five months of warfare with Soviet Russia.cite web |url= |title= Довідники/Довідник з історії України |accessdate=2008-01-30 |work=Вiртуальна Русь ] The new, semi-organized structure was made up of five brigade-sized "army groups" and a large number of 'Free Cossacks':
*Zaporozhian Corps
**Sich Riflemen, which were disbanded in late 1919 (5,000 servicemen)
**Zaporizhtsy group (3,000 servicemen)
**Volynska group (4,000 servicemen)
**Udovychenko's regiment (1,200 servicemen)
**Tutunnyka's group (1,500)

In May 1920 in the middle of the Polish-Soviet War, the army was once again forced to reorganize, after its strength more than doubled in size. The new structure included: six infantry and one cavalry division. Each infantry division was to have three brigades armed with artillery, a cavalry regiment and an engineer regiment. The single cavalry division had six mounted regiments. The formation of six reserve brigades was also attempted, but this was only partially successful. The reinforcement brigades were later made into an under strength, two brigade machine gun division. Thus, the structure was, as follows:
*Zaporozhian Corps
**1st Infantry "Zaporizhska" Division
**2nd Infantry "Volynska" Division
**3rd Infantry "Zalizna" Division
**4th Infantry "Kyivska" Division
**5th Infantry "Khernoska" Division
**6th Infantry "Sichovykh Striltsiv" Division [In honour of the disbanded Sich Riflemen]
**1st Machine Gun Division
**1st Cavalry DivisionAbbott, p 19, 20]

ee also

*Ukrainian Sich Riflemen
*Russian Civil War


*cite book|title=Ukrainian Armies 1914-55|last=Abbott|first=Peter|year=2004|publisher=Osprey Publishing|isbn=1841766682

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