The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine: Counteracting CBRN Threats in the Face of Russian Aggression 


By Colonel Roman Yuriev

Colonel Roman Yuriev discusses the work of the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service in protecting the country against emerging CBRN threats during Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (SBGSU) ensures the inviolability of the state border and the protection of sovereign rights in its exclusive (maritime) economic zone, and as a part of the country’s security and defense forces also participates in repelling russia’s* armed aggression against Ukraine. 

Furthermore, in view of the existing risks, in addition to conducting the above state border protection tasks, the SBGSU also maintains readiness to respond to any emerging CBRN threats. Indeed, with the beginning of the russian federation’s unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine, the threats posed by non-conventional means of destruction, resulting emergency situations, and CBRN disasters, are increasing every day. 

The probability of a state-level CBRN emergency occurring in Ukraine is high 

 Whether it be as a result of the high intensity of missile strikes on critical infrastructure, nuclear blackmail by russia’s military-political leadership, unsubstantiated accusations of the production of biological weapons, the mining of the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, or russia’s neglect and disregard of internationally recognized legal norms on a range of issues, at the moment the probability of a state-level CBRN emergency situation occurring in Ukraine is high.

For months, putin’s army has constantly tried to destroy critical civilian infrastructure, including energy, radiation and chemical industries facilities. 

According to open-source data at the time of writing, since the start of the full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022, the aggressor has launched up to 6,000 cruise and ballistic missiles and over 2,000 kamikaze UAVs. And yet, these statistics do not include the use of unguided missiles, combat aircraft and jet artillery.

© Roman Yuriev, Chief of CBRN & Metrology Insurance Unit of Administration of SBGSU 

CBRN tasks undertaken by the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine 

Given the risks, Ukraine’s leadership has been required to dedicate ever more effort into the complex task of preparing against the enemy’s possible use of weapons of mass destruction or future chemical or radiological emergency situations. To this end, the SBGSU’s structural units have taken on additional service and combat tasks on top of the traditional tasks of protecting Ukraine’s state border and terminating illegal formations and criminal organizations that violate it. 

These additional tasks include:

  • Assessing the chemical, biological and radiological situation; 
  • Managing CBRN threat risks; 
  • Combating nuclear smuggling; 
  • Preventing the illegal movement of weapons, ammunition and other means of terror; 
  • Performing service and combat tasks in case of the aggressor’s potential use of weapons of mass destruction; 
  • Working to save lives and units in case of CBRN contamination; 
  • Strengthening the protection of units with the use of smoke aerosols. 

In their work preparing against CBRN threats, the SBGSU’s units use a range of both modern and Soviet-era means and equipment, unfortunately mostly of the latter. In order to increase the capacity of border units and their preparedness to perform tasks in difficult conditions, brigade-type border detachments are being created within the SBGSU, which include separate CBRN intelligence units and special processing units. Some of them are already carrying out combat tasks in frontline areas. 

Despite numerous known cases, it is difficult to precisely document russia’s use of prohibited weapons 

To date, numerous cases of russia’s use of ammunition containing dangerous poisonous substances – which are prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Geneva Protocol of 1925 “as a means of warfare” – have been recorded in places of combat. This has unfortunately resulted in human losses in the SBGSU and other agencies.

It should be noted that it is difficult to precisely document the enemy’s use of prohibited weapons. Particularly difficult are the identification and collection of physical evidence, as well as locating the incident in places of active hostilities. Furthermore, making documentation of russia’s use of prohibited weapons even more tricky is the fact that it is impossible for investigative parties to get timely access to the site of the incident. 

© Roman Yuriev, Chief of CBRN & Metrology Insurance Unit of Administration of SBGSU

CBRN cooperation contributes to the security and prosperity of not only the immediate region but also the wider world 

The Administration of the State Border Guard Service is comprehensively engaged in attracting various assistance to help SBGSU personnel be trained according to NATO standards as well as providing them with the necessary CBRN materials. Special attention is also paid to providing specialized equipment, individual protection of respiratory and skin organs, means of decontamination, as well as devices for radiological and chemical intelligence gathering. 

Preventing the spread of CBRN threats to other countries requires joint efforts and mutual support, and therefore international cooperation and exchange of experience with partner countries is becoming increasingly important for Ukraine. Ukraine’s existing cooperation with international partners indicates a mutual increase in the level of countries’ preparedness for challenges in CBRN, efficiency in the exchange of experience, as well as an increase in the professional level of employees.

Together, all of this contributes to the security and prosperity of not only the immediate region but also the wider world. Despite considerable difficulties and the complicated current situation on the ground, the SBGSU continues to fulfill its tasks of countering chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. 

© Roman Yuriev, Chief of CBRN & Metrology Insurance Unit of Administration of SBGSU 

Meanwhile, the SBGSU’s administration would like to extend an appeal to interested individuals and legal entities in the CBRN industry to donate equipment or financial assistance to help bring Ukraine’s victory over the enemy closer.

Scan the QR code to find out how you can help the State Border Service of Ukraine, or click here and indicate “CBRN” in the payment destination. Thank you.

Colonel Roman Yuriev is the Chief of the CBRN & Metrology Insurance Unit of the Administration of State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. Born in 1978 in Slovyansk, Donetsk region, he studied at Kharkiv Military University where he obtained the educational and qualification level of “specialist” in “weapons and means of radiation, chemical, biological protection, and environmental safety”. Since 1996, he has served in the primary divisions of the CBRN and environmental security border guard detachments, and now works in the coordination and policy-making of the SBGSU. He has served in eastern Ukraine within Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions. 

* Editor’s Note: Words referring to the Russian Federation or people associated with it have been written in lower case at the author’s request. 

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