Ukrainian Sich Riflemen

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Ukrainian Sich Riflemen and Ukrainian Sich Riflemen officers in Kyiv 1918

The Ukrainian Sich Riflemen (Ukrainian: Січові стрільці, Ukrainski sichovi striltsi) were a Ukrainian military unit in the Austrian army. They were the first Ukrainian military formation during and after the First World War.

They were formed in 1914. The first volunteers in the unit were members of various existent Ukrainian paramilitary organizations. Initially, 2500 of them were accepted into the military and sent to the Russian front in the Carpathian Mountains. However, at their height they had over 8000 men.

The riflemen took part in many battles of World War I, including: Lysonia, Koniukhy, Makivka, Bolekhiv, Halych, Zavadiv, and Semykivtsi. They went through many command changes, spending most time under Captain Hryhorii Kossak.

After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, they began to grow in importance to Ukraine. After allying themselves with the West Ukrainian People's Republic, they took part in the Battle for Lviv against Poland, but in April 1920 the regiment suffered heavy losses in battle and was surrounded by the Polish army so on 2 May 1920 it was forced to capitulate. Nonetheless, the officers and soldiers of the unit went on to take part in the formation of the Sich Riflemen of Kyiv, and the Ukrainian Galician Army.


Encyclopedia of Ukraine