A Ukrainian Special Operations unit has become the first-ever non-NATO unit to pass the Alliance’s arduous SOF certification process.

The 140th Special Operations Forces Center (140th SOFC) is now eligible to deploy and operate under the umbrella of NATO’s Response Force, the NRF. Being a SOF unit, however, means that if it were to be called, the 140th SOFC would be deployed as part of the Alliance’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), a quick reaction force that is designed to deal with emergency contingencies under the Readiness Action Plan (RAP).

Despite the unit’s title, which alludes to a training organization, it’s one of the four operational elements of the Ukrainian Special Operations Command (the other three being the 3rd Special Operations Regiment, the 8th Special Operations Regiment, and 73rd Special Operations Sea Center).

This unique qualification signals the gradual incorporation of Ukraine into the West. With an official entry to NATO being out of the question for the moment – Russia would perceive such a move almost as an act of war – the Ukrainian government is doing its best to shield the country from further Russian aggression, which has already wolfed Crimea and parts of Eastern Ukraine.

And the Trump administration seems to acknowledge the risk that the Ukrainians are undertaking and decided to reward their courage by greenlighting a $400 million financial boost to the country’s defences. The monetary infusion, which has been on hold for some months now, will be divided into two portions: the first will be an about $140 million package from the U.S. State Department, and the second, a $250 million package from the U.S. Department of Defence. The funds will go toward enhancing Ukraine’s communications infrastructure, surveillance capabilities, and individual weapons systems, such as sniper rifles.

In conjunction with the operational evaluation of the 140th SOFC, the Ukrainian Special Operations Command revealed its newest logo: A werewolf.  According to a press release by the Ukrainian General Staff, “the layout of the patch symbolizes the continuity of military traditions dating back to the warriors of the times of Prince Svyatoslav the Brave and the Cossacks with supernatural powers to the present times, as well as determination, perseverance and resolution in performing the tasks to manage subordinate military units of the SOF.”

Prince Svyatoslav the Brave was a Slav ruler and the Grand Prince of Kiev. He ruled in what is part of today Ukraine during the 10th century A.D. His military acumen and success have made him into a national symbol for the Ukrainians – interestingly, he has also been adopted as a military patron by the Belarussians and Russians, a most awkward connection, considering the historic tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

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