Rare footage of Russian SVR special forces personnel with a deadly reputation aired live on television in Russia in a huge break from protocol.

The Russian public was given an unprecedented glimpse into the country’s most elite special forces unit when a Spetsnaz training video was aired on national television. In the rare footage, wearing gas masks, the SF personnel can be seen clearing a compound training room showcasing their CQB skills.

The unit is a part of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, the SVR. SVR troops have recently been active in places like Syria and Ukraine, although any official presence has been denied by Russian authorities and President Putin. Which is standard, not to comment on most SF units’ activities.

In a TV interview broadcast alongside the footage, the SVR’s director, Sergey Naryshkin, said: “Unfortunately the world has become very uneasy. We were forced to evacuate our diplomatic crews from Libya, Iraq and recently in Yemen, and these tasks were performed by this unit.”

The SVR has historically been extremely careful in how it manages the flow of information available to the public, allowing rumors of its deadly reputation to thrive. The agency works alongside, and often together with, the GRU — the Russian intelligence agency suspected of orchestrating the Skripal poisoning. It seems as though the Russian Government is trying to send a message to its people — and the world — with this latest publicity stunt. Offering insight into its most elite unit might offer some the comfort of knowing they can stand toe-to-toe with the Americans and the British.

Although, indeed, if you watch the video, you might be thinking, “Well, hell, they look sharp.” The reality is they are still no match for the likes of the SAS or Delta. For one reason, experience and history! The SAS has been around a long time. With undoubtedly far more operational background and far more knowledge to build upon, not to mention that they have a massive fund to test and apply new equipment and gear.

The likes of this new modern SVR unit has not been around that long, nor does it have the background of that of Delta and the SAS. Not to be underestimated in any way, this unit is still up there and without a doubt the best Russia has to offer.