Beware the Kracken

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Ukraine’s Kraken Special Forces and how this all-volunteer fighting force has been taking names and kicking Russian ass around Kharkiv. It was they who were called into action when Russian Marines were caught on CCTV murdering civilians in cold blood.

Kraken Regiment members in Ruska Lozova. The soldier front and center is sporting a patch representing the great state of Texas. In other photos, some have been wearing subdued US Flag patches on their uniform. Image Credit: Wojciech Grzedzinski

The Kraken are quickly gaining notoriety and support. Last month, the government of Estonia provided them with four Alvis 4 armored personnel carriers. The Alvis is a UK-made version of the South African Mamba. They are somewhat bulky-looking but mine-resistant vehicles that were once often seen patrolling along the South African borders and in the former Rhodesia. The underside of the vehicle is armor-plated and slopes in such that any blast encountered would be directed away from the occupants inside, of which it can hold nine.

The main body is made of steel and is resistant to small arms fire and shrapnel. The commander’s hatch can serve as a mount for a machine gun. Despite their weight (6.8 tons), the Alvis can be surprisingly agile and is capable of climbing a 60% gradient. It has a top speed of about 65 mph on a hard road surface.

Here we see the APCs marked with the Ukrainian flag and the Kraken special unit symbol. Video courtesy of YouTube and Ukraine Today

To be fair, the Kraken unit could probably use some additional vehicles, equipment, and weapons. There is more than a little DIY feel to their hardware. Perhaps this is because they are not technically part of their country’s armed forces. However, they do answer to the Defense Ministry. They are a hardcore government-backed paramilitary group.

Until they got the APCs, the Kraken would roll into battle in their SUVs, pickups and even ATVs. One of their battle wagons, a newish Nissan Murano, is spraypainted dull green bumper to bumper, including the wheels. The camouflage on their weapons is often self-done as well. This is illustrated in the image of the soldiers above. The gentleman on the left used some questionably bright shades of green on his weapon.

But these things are not as important as the fact that they are highly motivated fighters honing their combat skills by actually fighting. These are people who run towards the sound of gunfire with little regard for their own safety. When asked why they fight so hard, these citizen soldiers are quick to explain that they are fighting for their homeland, their way of life, and their very freedom.