Emblems of Valor and Wit: The Story Behind Ukrainian Military Chevrons

The insignia and chevrons of the Ukrainian military are not just mere symbols of rank and unit designation; they carry a deep sense of identity, tradition, and humor, reflecting the spirit of the Ukrainian forces. Post-independence, Ukraine shifted away from Soviet shoulder sleeve insignia, forging a path to create emblems that resonated more with European standards. However, the actual direction of these designs remained unclear until 2018, when the Ukrainian military established comprehensive guidelines to regulate the creation and introduction of military insignia, ensuring no religious icons, mixing of historical weaponry, or distinguished figure portraits would be included. The emblems were to be practical, devoid of inscriptions, and adaptable for field and formal wear .

In addition to the official shoulder sleeve insignia, the Ukrainian military also embraces “moral patches” or “unofficial chevrons.” These patches reflect the personal flair and humor of the soldiers, although their use is restricted to the field and not for official or permanent base deployment. These unique insignia range from depicting animals symbolizing unit characteristics, to metaphorical representations of the unit’s function or achievements, such as the fire breath of a dragon symbolizing missile capabilities. Each emblem, whether official or unofficial, narrates a story, a tradition, or a joke, enriching the fabric of the Ukrainian military culture .

These emblems and patches are more than just fabric and thread. They are a canvas where history, humor, and the spirit of the Ukrainian forces intertwine, narrating the rich tapestry of a nation’s relentless spirit and resilience in the face of challenges .

Life will win over death. Light will win over darkness.

Volodymyr Zelensky.