3rd Guards Spetsnaz Brigade

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3rd Guards Spetsnaz Brigade
3 brigada specnaza.jpg
The Brigade on parade, 9 May 2011
Active March 26, 1944 - present
Country Russia Russia
Branch Emblem of the Russian Ground Forces.svg Russian Ground Forces
Type Spetsnaz
Role Special reconnaissance
special operations
Direct Action
Size ~ 1,600 Commandos[1]
Part of GRU emblem.svg GRU (operational subordination)
Garrison/HQ Tolyatti
MUN 21208
Nickname(s) 'Warsaw-Berlin'
Anniversaries March 26th
Engagements World War II
First Chechen War
Civil war in Tajikistan
Kosovo War
Second Chechen War
Guards Col. Sergey Schepin

The 3rd Guards Separate 'Warsaw-Berlin Red Banner Order of Suvorov 3rd degree' Spetsnaz Brigade (Military Unit Number 21208) is a special forces brigade of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) and thus the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. It is now based at Tolyatti.


Despite the fact that the brigade itself was created in 1966, its predecessors have a long history.

Traditionally, the brigade traces its heritage to the 5th Separate Motorcycle Regiment. The regiment was established by Soviet General Staff Directive based on 238th Tank Brigade on March 26, 1944. On July 14, 1944, the regiment took part in the fighting, fighting in the 1st Byelorussian Front.

For exemplary performance of assigned tasks, for the seizure of the cities of Lublin, Garwolin, and Żelechów, decree USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium on August 9, 1944, the regiment was awarded Order of Red Banner. On December 1, 1944, the regiment was awarded the honorary title of "Guards."

For the successful execution of assigned tasks to free Warsaw Commander of the Order of February 10, 1945, the regiment was given the name "Warsaw". For exemplary performance of assigned tasks, for the possession of the cities of Woldenberg Zeden? by the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet on April 26, 1945, the regiment was awarded the Order of Suvorov third degree.

For participation in the assault and capture of Berlin, the regiment was given the name "Berlin" on May 11, 1945. Since October 1945 the 5th Separate Guards Red Banner Order of Suvorov III degree Warsaw-Berlin Motorcycle Regiment of the 2nd Guards Tank Army was in a military town Tiefenbrunn.

On April 1, 1947, the 5th Separate Guards motorcycle regiment was disbanded, and on its base the 48th Separate Guards Motorcycle Battalion was established. In accordance with the directive of the General Staff of the number Org 267 486 20 September 1954 in order to improve the organization of reconnaissance units November 28, 1954 48th Separate Guards Motor Cycle Battalion was reformed in the 48th Separate Guards Reconnaissance Battalion.

In accordance with General Staff Directive № Org / 6/111560 on July 9, 1966 48th Separate Guards Reconnaissance Warsaw-Berlin Red Banner Order of Suvorov III degree battalion was disbanded.

Soviet Union[edit]

Gate at Neuthymen barracks, Eastern Germany

The brigade was formed in 1966 by a Directive of the Commander Group of Soviet Forces in Germany. It was formed in the garrison Werder (Havel) based 26th separate special battalion and 27th separate special battalion, and 48th and 166th separate reconnaissance battalions.[2]

The brigade was stationed in the town of Fürstenberg/Havel. Part of the brigade units were stationed until 1975 in Neustrelitz, then in Neuthymen. One of the main tasks of the brigade in the 1960-1980s was to detect and destroy the mobile missile systems of potential enemies.

Russian Federation[edit]

Chest badge for Russian Guards troops.

In April 1991, based on the directives of the Ministry of Defence of the USSR № 314/1/01500 on November 7, 1990, the brigade was relocated to the village of Roshchinsky, Samara Oblast and came under command of the Volga-Urals Military District. With the reorganisation of the military districts in 2011 it became part of the Central Military District.


From September 28, 1992, to November 24, 1992, a Task Force from the brigade participated in combat operations in Tajikistan. Soldiers from the Brigade played a support role to the deployment of the 201st Motorized Rifle Division, guarding military and government facilities, covering the evacuation of the American embassy and escorted humanitarian convoys.

First Chechen War[edit]

January 17, 1995 1st Battalion ( 509th ooSpN ) 3rd Brigade, using IL-76 was transferred to Mozdok, after which BMP-1 column moved on Khankala. The battalion conducted special reconnaissance around the city of Argun. Operation continued near the village of Komsomolsk, where the battalion assaulted and took a strategic height controlled by the adversary. In the night from 20 to 21 March 1995, in joint operation with the reconnaissance battalion of the 165th regiment of marines, successfully assaulted and captured height 236.7. The unit continued operations with disarmaming illegal armed groups near the settlements of Argun and Mesker- Yurt. Later a detachment fought near Gudermes and Shali.

Kosovo War[edit]

Commando teams participated in the peacekeeping missions in Kosovo from July 1999 to October 2001.

Second Chechen War[edit]

The brigade took part in anti-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations from April 2002, to January 2007.


On July 21, 2001, on the basis of the 1st Battalion of the brigade, a consolidated group was formed, which until November 2004 provided security for Russian representative in Kabul.

The brigade was moved from Roshchinsky to Tolyatti in 2010.


On 16 May 2015, Armed Forces of Ukraine reported that troops of the 92nd Mechanized Brigade captured two Russians soldiers of the 3rd Guards Spetsnaz Brigade during a fight near Shchastya town (Luhansk oblast, eastern Ukraine).[3][4] Captured soldiers said they were spetsnaz from Tolyatti, specifically Military Unit 21208.[5] On May 18, 2015, police broke up a brief protest of approximately 12 people at a checkpoint near the Tolyatti base, with some protesters expressing concern about the Russians captured in Ukraine.[6] While the representative of pro-Russian militants Eduard Basurin out of the eastern Ukraine said the captured Russians, Yevgeny Vladimirovich Yerofeyev (Russian: Евгений Владимирович Ерофеев) and Alexander Anatolyevich Alexandrov (Александр Анатольевич Александров), are members of the Luhansk People's Republic People’s Militia,[7] Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe officials said the two Russians admitted to being members of the Russian military.[8] A year later, in May 2016, soldiers were exchanged for Nadiya Savchenko, Ukrainian citizen held in Russia.[9]

Unit Citations[edit]

Ribbon Award Year Location
Order suvorov1 rib.png Order of Suvorov 1945 Germany
Order of Red Banner ribbon bar.png Order of Red Banner 1944 Poland
OrderStGeorge4cl rib.png Order of St. George 2010 Russia

Notable soldiers[edit]

During its operational history, 176 commandos of the brigade were awarded honors for bravery in combat. Two commandos were awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation:

  • Guards Petty Officer Anton B. Ushakov (1972-1995) (posthumously).
  • Guards Lieutenant Alexei Dergunov (1979-2003) (posthumously).
  • Guards Major Alexei R. Prushkin (1962-1990) (posthumously).