Military Wiki
Odessa Military District
Active 1862 - 1998
Country  Russian Empire (1862 - 1918)
 Soviet Union (1939 - 1941), (1944 - 1991)
Ukraine Ukraine (1991 - 1998)
Type Military district
Headquarters Odessa
Engagements Invasion of Poland (selected units), Invasion of Romania, World War II
Georgy Zhukov (06/1946 - 02/1948)

The Odessa Military District (Russian: Одесский военный округ, ОВО) was a military administrative division of the Imperial Russian military, the Soviet Armed Forces and the Ukrainian Armed Forces and was known under such name from around 1862 to 1998. It was reorganized as part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Military of Moldova in 1992. In 1998 most of its territory was transformed into the Southern Operational Command (Ukraine).


Map of military districts in 1913. OVO is in light navy color on the far-left

Years of existence

Russian Empire

The Odessa Military District was established during the reforms of the Russian military minister Dmitry Milyutin. It was the second of two districts on the territory of Ukraine, the other being Kiev Military District. OVO existed from 1862 - 1918 as part of the Imperial Russian Armed Forces. It encompassed the territories of Kherson, Yekaterinoslav, Tauride, Bessarabia guberniyas. The district bordered Kingdom of Romania, Kiev Military District, Don Voisko Oblast, and Black Sea. In the 1870s and 1880s (until August 12, 1889) the Commander of the district served as the interim Governor General of Odessa city concurrently. In January 1918 the Odessa Military District headquarters was transformed into the headquarters of the Soviet Romanian Front under the jurisdiction of Rumcherod. With the establishment of the Ukrainian government on its territory, it was terminated. OVO was reinstated as the Ukrainian forces were pushed out the area in April to August 1919.

Soviet Union

The district was reformed by the decision of October 11, 1939 specifically for the occupation of Bessarabia after the Soviet Union signed Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. At that time its territory included the newly created Moldovian SSR, six oblasts of the Ukrainian SSR (Izmail, Odessa, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv, Kirovohrad) and also the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic as part of the Russian SFSR. The Odessa MD was reinforced by several units from the Ukrainian Front that took part in the Soviet invasion of Poland and Romania, previously formed on base of the Odessa Army Group of the Kiev Special Military District (reformed Kiev Military District).

By directives OV/583 and OV/584 of the Soviet People's Commissariat of Defense, units of the Odessa Military District were ordered into battle ready state in the spring of 1940. Soviet troop concentrations along the Romanian border took place between April 15 and June 10, 1940. In order to coordinate the efforts of the Kiev and Odessa military districts in the preparation of action against Romania, the Soviet Army created the Southern Front under General Georgy Zhukov, composed of the 5th, 9th and 12th Armies. The Southern Front had 32 infantry divisions, 2 motorized infantry divisions, 6 cavalry divisions, 11 tank brigades, 3 paratrooper brigades, 30 artillery regiments, and smaller auxiliary units.

Two action plans were devised. The first plan was prepared for the case that Romania would not accept to evacuate Bessarabia and Bukovina. The Soviet 12th Army was supposed in such a situation to strike Southward along the Prut river towards Iaşi, while Soviet 9th Army was supposed to strike East-to-West south of Chişinău towards Huşi. The target of this plan was to surround the Romanian troops in the Bălţi-Iaşi area. The second plan took into consideration the case that Romania would succumb to Soviet demands and would evacuate its military. In such a situation, Soviet troops were given the mission to reach quickly the Prut river, and take charge of the evacuation process of the Romanian troops. The first plan was taken as the basis of action. Along the portions where the offensive was supposed to take place, Soviets prepared to have at least a triple superiority of men and means.

On June 22, 1941 primary combat formations included:[1]

In August 1941 51st Independent Army was formed in the Crimea.

On September 10, 1941 the district was abolished as it was overran by the Armed Forces of Nazi Germany and its allies.

Post World War II Development

Soviet Operations 19 August to 31 December 1944

The District was reformed on April 23, 1944 with its headquarters at Kirovohrad, which in October 1944 relocated to Odessa. After the war the 57th Аrmy and the Seventh Guards Army were deployed in the District. In April 1960 the District consisted of three oblasts (Mykolaiv Oblast, Izmail Oblast and Odessa Oblast) as well as the Moldavian SSR and the three new oblasts from the disbanded Tavria Military District: Zaporizhia Oblast, Crimean Oblast, and Kherson Oblast.

Tavria Military District

The Tavria Military District had previously been created in July 1945 from the headquarters of the Separate Coastal Army and 22nd Army with its headquarters in Simferopol. In April 1960 the District's contingent came under command of the Force Command in Southwestern Direction, with its headquarters at Kishinev where it was practically relocated.[2] Its administrative representation in the Ukrainian oblasts came under responsibility of the Odessa MD.

Later Developments

In the Odessa District's territory were additionally deployed the 14th Guards Army (created on the basis of 10th Guards Rifle Corps), the 32nd Army Corps (reformed on the basis of the headquarters units of former Tavria Military District) in 1956,[3] the 82nd Army Corps (disbanded in probably 1987), complemented by the 98th Guards Airborne Division as well as seven additional motor rifle divisions. The 82nd Army Corps, located in Balti, Moldavian SSR, was part of the 14th Guards Army, and consisted of the 59th Guards Motor Rifle Division and 86th Guards Motor Rifle Division.[4]

The 5th Air Army of the Soviet Air Forces provided tactical air support for the District's units and the 49th Air Defence Corps, 8th Air Defence Army was tasked with national air defence for the territory.

The Odessa Military District was transferred uto the jurisdiction of Ukraine after the dissolution of the Soviet Union on January 3, 1992 at 18:00.[citation needed] William E. Odom says that 'in accordance with the Minsk agreements [from the CIS summit in Minsk of 30–31 December 1991], Shaposhnikov sent an order on 3 January 1992, formally transferring conventional forces to Ukraine. President Kravchuk then approved the firing of the three military district commanders (..). On 7–8 January each were removed, none resisting because within their headquarters Kravchuk's people had quietly created a network of officers loyal to his government.'[5]

Its units were split between the Armed Forces of Ukraine and some units, mostly from the 14th Guards Army, in the former Moldovian SSR that became part of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

Commanders 1945-91

  • General Colonel V A Yushkevich (until 06 1946)(former commander of 31st Army)[6]
  • Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov (06 1946-02 1948)
  • General Colonel Nikolay Pukhov (02 1948-1951),
  • General Colonel K N Galitskiy (1951–1954),
  • General Colonel A I Radzievskiy (1954–1959),
  • General Colonel Hamazasp Babadzhanian (P H Babadjanyan) (1959-03 1967),
  • General Colonel M V Lugovtsev (03 -12 1967)
  • General Colonel A G Shyrypov (01 1968-1974)
  • General Colonel I M Voloshin (1974–1982)
  • General Colonel S A Elagin (1982-'»)
  • General Colonel I S Morozov (?)
  • General Lieutenant V G Radetskiy (?)

Forces in the 1980s

Around 1988, the District contained the following forces:[7]

  • 14th Guards Army
    • 28th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Chornomorske/Yuzhne?)(became 28th Guards Mechanised Brigade circa 2001)
    • 59th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Tiraspol)(the former 59th Guards Rifle Division)
    • 86th Guards Motor Rifle Division (Beltsy)
    • 180th Motor Rifle Division (Belgorod-Dnestrovsky) Formed 1940 in the Baltic Special MD; became 28th Guards RD 3 May 1942, recreated at Tscherepowez 6.42, fought at Kiev, Targul Frumos, and Budapest. With 53rd Army of the 2nd Ukrainian Front in May 1945. Briefly 14th Rifle Division in the mid 1950s, then 88th Motor Rifle Division 1957, but became 180th 'Киевская краснознаменная, орденов Суворова, Кутузова' Motor Rifle Division in 1965 and remained under that title until the 1990s. After 1992 became Ukrainian 27th Mechanised Brigade.
  • 32nd Army Corps 'Кенигсберский' (Simferopol)[8] (32-й Кенигсберский армейский корпус)
    • 126th Motor Rifle Division (Simferopol) (257th Tank Regiment (Перевальное/Perevalne?) became 126th Tank Battalion around 1990), 361 мсп (Евпатория), 98 мсп, 100 мсп, 816 ап, 1096th Anti-Aircraft Rocket Regiment (Межгорье))
    • 157th Motor Rifle Division (Feodosiya)(501st Motor Rifle Regiment (Kerch), 84th Motor Rifle Regiment, 91 мсп, ап (Керчь), зрп). In 1990 became the 5378th Base for Storage of Weapons and Equipment. Came under Ukrainian control 1992.
    • Corps troops included the 1398th Anti-tank Artillery Regiment (Lugovoe/Луговое) - 9th Engineer-Sapper Battalion, 909 батальон связи, 287 радиотехнический батальон, 858 ремонтно-восстановительный батальон (Мазанка) - 301st Artillery Brigade (Simferopol)
  • District Troops
    • 92nd Guards Motor Rifle Training Division (Nikolaev/Shirokiy Lan) - former 92nd Guards Rifle Division. Reorganised as the 150th District Training Centre, and later after Ukrainian independence, the 92nd District Training Centre.[9] Colonel Valery Alexandrovich Ageyev, Commanding the 150th Training Centre for Young Specialists, of the Odessa Military District was promoted to Major-General in Decree 350/93 of 21 August 1993.[10] Duncan noted in April 1997 that '..the motor rifle training centre remain[s] under the command of the new MD.'[11]
    • 98th Guards Airborne Division (Bolgrad)
    • 40th independent Landing-Assault Brigade (Nikolayev, Odessa Oblast, from October 1979).[12] Transferred to Soviet Airborne Troops from Odessa MD in June 1990, handed over to Ukrainian control 1992, redesignated later 79th Airmobile Brigade.
    • 10th independent Special Forces Brigade GRU (activated 10.62 in Karagoz, Crimean Oblast). Taken over by Ukraine early 1992 (directive issued 11.10.91).
    • 55th Artillery Division (Zaporozhia/Novaya Alexandrovka)[13] In 1988 consisted of 371st Multiple rocket Launcher Brigade (48 9A52 "Smerch") and two artillery regiments - 701st Howitzer artillery regiment (48 units of D-30) and 751st antitank artillery regiment (84 MT-LBT guided missile system), and 3 shelves and 2 base in Novo-Aleksandrovka
  • 5th Air Army


Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union the 14th Guards Army became entangled in the later War of Transnistria (see 14th Army involvement in Transnistria). The 98th Guards Airborne Division was split between Russia and Ukraine; the Ukrainian half became the 1st Airmobile Division and the Russian part was withdrawn to Ivanovo in the Moscow Military District and became part of the Russian Airborne Troops.

The 5th Air Army was later redesignated the 5th Aviation Corps of the Ukrainian Air Force, while over the northern border, the Army was reformed in Russia's Volga-Urals Military District in 2001.

Colonel General Vladimir Shkidchenko commanded the Odessa Military District from December 1993 until it became the Southern Operational Command in February 1998. Since January 3, 1998 the Odessa Military District was transformed into the Southern Operational Command of the Ukrainian Ground Forces according to the Decree of Ministry of Defense of Ukraine from July 1, 1997.[citation needed] The command encompasses nine oblasts: Odessa, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kirovohrad, Kharkiv, and the autonomous republic of Crimea.


  1., Administrative Order of Battle 22 June 1941, accessed August 2009
  2. Historical overview of the District (Russian)
  3. Feskov et al 2004, p.47
  4. Feskov et al 2004, 47.
  5. William E. Odom, The Collapse of the Soviet Military, Yale University Press, 1998, p.383 citing 'Colonel General Ivan Bizhan, deputy minister of defene in Ukraine, related this episode to me and others on 12 October 1996.'
  6. Курская Битва
  7. Feskov et al 2004., for most formations.
  8. Feskov et al 2004, 57.
  9. Feskov et al.
  10. Edict of the President of Ukraine on conferring military ranks, 21 August 1993.
  11. Andrew Duncan, 'Ukraine's forces find that change is good,' Jane's Intelligence Review, April 1997, p.163
  12. Michael Holm, 40th independent Landing-Assault Brigade
  13. Jane's Intelligence Review March 1992 for HQ location.

Further reading

  • Feskov et al., The Soviet Army during the period of the Cold War, 2004
  • А. Г. Ленский, Сухопутные силы РККА в предвоенные годы. Справочник. — Санкт-Петербург Б&К, 2000
  • Military Encyclopedic Dictionary. Moscow, 2002.

External links

Южному ОК - 70 лет. 2009 год. Фильм.

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