47th Mechanized Brigade: path to the breakthrough

1 July, 2023

Formed of strong and motivated warriors, the 47th Mechanized Brigade “Magura” is the one to have set on a non-standard path of evolution and faced heavy battles on its way to break through the defense of the invaders in Zaporizhzhia.

Although the expansion from the battalion to the brigade took very little time, at the beginning the soldiers of the battalion had to undergo a difficult experience.

History and founders

In the creation of the 47th Separate Assault Battalion, it is noteworthy to single out two people: Ivan Shalamaha and Valerii Markus.

Ivan Shalamaha, now 25, went to the front in 2018.

Before that, he received his military education at the Kruty Heroes Lviv Lyceum with Intensive Military and Physical Training and the Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi National Ground Forces Academy.

Іван Шаламага. Фото: 47-ма окрема механізована бригада
Ivan Shalamaha. Photo credits: 47th Mechanized Brigade

Shalamaha became the youngest commander of a platoon, company, battalion and later a regiment in Ukraine.

In his turn, Valerii Markus, now 29 years old, joined the battle with Russia back in 2014 as part of the 25th Airborne Brigade and in 2016 returned to civilian life.

Shalamaha and Marcus met a full-scale Russian invasion on 24 February 2022 in various locations and situations.

At that time, Ivan was defending positions on the Svitlodarsk Salient as part of the 30th Mechanized Brigade.

Valerii Markus. Photo from social media

Valerii, already a media person by then, used his contacts to deal with the military unit directly, bypassing the military enlistment office and all examinations, and go to the front as early as possible.


Markus joined Ivan Shalamaha’s unit in the 30th Brigade and began to do reconnaissance.

After some time, the deputy battalion commander Ivan was offered the position of commander of the new battalion himself.

At one of the dinners, attended by Valerii Markus, Oleksandr “Consul” and Oleksandr “Krym”, Ivan offered Markus the chief sergeant position.

Іван Шаламага та Валерій Маркус на Вуглегірській тепловій електростанції. Червень 2022. Україна. Фото: 47-й окремий штурмовий батальйон
Ivan Shalamaha and Valerii Markus at the Vuhlehirska Power Station. June 2022. Ukraine. Photo credits: 47th Separate Assault Battalion

Markus immediately agreed and on April 26 said that he saw an opportunity to create something new, without those things that make the military think about leaving the army.

Also, as a famous person, Markus took over all the media activities of the battalion. In this regard, they also created a charity fund of the battalion – the Markus Foundation, which accumulates money for the needs of the soldiers.

Conceptually, it was supposed to be one of dozens of rifle battalions, but the officers chose another way.

Перші охочі вступити у 47-й окремий штурмовий батальйон. Весна 2022 року. Київ, Україна. Фото: ukrainer.net
Wishing to join the 47th Separate Assault Battalion. 2022. Ukraine. Photo credits: ukrainer.net

In the 47th Separate Assault Battalion, they recruited not regular conscripts, but volunteers who had to pass a strict selection.

A large number of willing men poured into the battalion, which allowed the officers to select the most worthy. The first staffing was completed on May 8.

The first challenge of the battalion became the battles in the area of the Vuhlehirska Power Station in June.

Вуглегірська теплова електростанція. Червень 2022. Україна. Фото: 47-й окремий штурмовий батальйон
Vuhlehirska Power Station. June 2022. Ukraine. Photo credits: 47th Separate Assault Battalion

The problem for the battalion was that they recruited many civilians who had not faced stressful situations before.

Nevertheless, professional background and motivation helped to cope with difficulties on this section of the front, however not without losses.

During the battle, the battalion was also forced to close the positions abandoned by deserters, which led to the death of six soldiers.

Загиблі у червні 2022 року бійці 47-го окремого штурмового батальйону
Soldier of the 47th Separate Assault Battalion who died in June 2022

The Russians managed to occupy the Vuhlehirska Power Station and the city of Svitlodarsk, Ukrainian troops were forced to retreat from this area.

After the battles, the Ukrainian General Staff noted the success of the battalion and ordered it to be expanded to a regiment.

The Regiment

The transition from battalion to regiment took only three months with the recruitment of new volunteers.

More than 4 thousand people took part in the first stage of selection (online questionnaire).

At the end of June, the General Staff approved all the armament and staff positions requested in the new 47th Separate Assault Regiment.

The main priorities for the selection of people remained the principles of continuous self-study, high-quality internal culture and mutual respect between all elements inside of the military unit.

In this regard, it is worth paying attention to Markus’ quote to understand the requirements for recruits:

“If you are not capable of self-education – you are not suitable for us. Unable to take responsibility, take initiative, feel like everyone owes you – you do not fit with us. Unable to communicate like a civilized person – you do not fit. If you do not recognize subordination, do not accept commands and criticism from commanders younger than you – you do not fit. If you do not understand Ukrainian and are not able to learn quickly, in critical conditions, negotiate on the air in Ukrainian – you do not fit. Not able to run 10 km – you do not fit.”

Нарукавний знак 47-го окремого штурмового полку. Фото: markus.foundation
Shoulder sleeve insignia of the 47th Separate Assault Regiment. Photo credits: markus.foundation

The officers of the regiment realized that they would not have time to prepare their servicemen well enough for new challenges.

To receive the regiment’s sleeve insignia, upon graduation, the recruits must achieve the physical standards expected of them. This is 10 kilometers of running in full ammunition, 10 pull-ups and a rope climb. The brigade symbol comes from the concept of a knight in chess that acts outside the box, overstepping other pieces. The circle with spikes symbolizes the shield.

Instructors from private American military companies were also involved in the exercise.

The Brigade

The regiment did not have time to enter the battle, as on November 15, 2023 it officially became the 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade.

Given the previous experience in recruiting people first in the battalion, and later in the regiment, the brigade was formed at super-fast rates within a month.

Oleksandr Sak was appointed commander of the brigade, who at the age of 28 was already a full holder of the Order of Bohdan Khmelnytsky.

Командир 47-ї окремої механізованої бригади Олександр Сак. Фото зі сторінки бригади
Oleksandr Sak, Commander of the 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade. Photo from the brigade’s social media page

With relevant experience and military education, the officer has previously served in the 93rd Mechanized Brigade “Kholodnyi Yar”.

Ivan Shalamaha has become his deputy. Valerii Markus was appointed as Chief Sergeant of the Brigade.

The personnel of the brigade began combat training at various locations in Ukraine and Europe.

Підготовка бійців 47-ї окремої механізованої бригади Олександр Сак. Фото зі сторінки бригади
Training of the 47th Mechanized Brigade soldiers. Photo from the brigade’s social media page

“Our brigade was formed as an assault brigade. We do not disclose details, but the scenario of our engagement comes from the word BREAKTHROUGH,” Valerii Marcus emphasized.


The units of the brigade began to be equipped with weapons and armored vehicles, which were transferred to Ukraine by the United States and European countries.

First of all, it became known that the brigade would receive all 28 M-55S tanks that Slovenia had handed over to Ukraine.

These outdated Т-55 tanks received a new L7 105mm gun with a thermal sleeve and additional systems, and receive new designation during the modernization.

Among armored vehicles, the brigade received a Panthera T6 from Minerva Special Purpose Vehicle (MSPV) from the United Arab Emirates.

The supplier and buyer of these vehicles for Ukraine is unknown, they arrived in Ukraine in December last year.

Бронемашини Panthera T6 47-ї бригади «Маґура». Січень 2023. Україна. Фото: ЗСУ
Panthera T6 armored vehicles of the 47th Brigade. January 2023. Ukraine. Photo credits: AFU

Also, American MaxxPro armored vehicles were handed over to the brigade’s soldiers.

These armored vehicles will provide the “Magura” Brigade with enhanced mine protection and increased maneuverability during the transportation of military personnel.

Бронемашина MaxxPro 47-ї окремої механізованої бригади. Україна. Фото: "Markus Foundation"
MaxxPro armored vehicle of the 47th Mechanized Brigade. Ukraine. Photo credits: Markus Foundation

In order to strengthen the brigade’s artillery capabilities, the United States armed the gunners with M109A6 Paladin 155mm self-propelled howitzers.

The firing range with conventional rounds is 24 kilometers. When firing with rocket-assisted projectiles, the firing range increases to 30 kilometers.

American M109A6 Paladin 155mm self-propelled howitzer of the 47th Brigade. June 2023. Ukraine. Photo credits: markus.foundation

To transport soldiers to enemy positions and fire support, the brigade was provided with dozens of American Bradley infantry fighting vehicles in the M2A2 ODS version.

In total, Ukraine expects to receive more than 100 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles.

Український військовий 47-ї окремої механізованої бригади «Магура» за кермом бойової машини піхоти M2 Bradley на позиціях. Запорізький напрямок. Червень 2023. Україна. Фото: "Радіо Свобода"
A Ukrainian soldier of the 47th Separate Mechanized Brigade driving an M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle in positions. Zaporizhzhia direction. June 2023. Ukraine. Photo credits: RFE/RL

The brigade also receives various reconnaissance drones and Western infantry armament.


At the beginning of June 2023, the 47th Mechanized Brigade was given a very difficult and important task – to break through the Russian defense in the Zaporizhzhia region in the direction of the Tokmak city.

This is the most difficult for Ukrainian military direction – from Orikhiv and Mala Tokmachka along the front line to Tokmak.

The Russian military arranged several lines of defense and installed many minefields in the path of the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Also, Ukrainian forces are hampered by enemy combat aircraft.

Фронт на Запоріжжі станом на кінець червня 2023 року
Front in Zaporizhzhia region as of the end of June 2023

During the hostilities in the Zaporizhzhia region, the armor of the American Bradley saved the Ukrainian infantry many times.

Compared with Soviet weapons, such as BMP and BTR, these are completely different classes in defense. M2 Bradley is better in both armament and defense of crew and troops in the squad compartment.

M2 Bradley IFV of the Ukrainian military. June 2023. Ukraine. Photo credits: @winua22

Breaking through the trenches and other Russian fortifications in the Tokmak area will allow them to continue advancing to Melitopol, a strategic city near the Sea of Azov. The liberation of Melitopol would cut land supply routes to Crimea.

In some operations, the brigade soldiers are forced to act without the support of armored vehicles and overcome minefields only due to the skills of their sappers.

Nevertheless, as Chief Master Sergeant Valerii Markus noted on June 29: “The counter-offensive is successful”.


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