Spetsnaz (Russian: спецназ, IPA: [spʲɪtsˈnas]; abbreviation for Russian: Войска́ специа́льного назначе́ния, tr. Voyská spetsiálnovo naznachéniya, IPA: [vɐjˈska spʲɪt͡sɨˈalʲnəvə nəznɐˈt͡ɕenʲɪjə], lit. ‘Special Operations Forces’ or ‘Special Purpose Military Units’) is a Russian language umbrella term for special forces which is used in numerous Russian-speaking post-Soviet states.
Historically, the term referred to special operations units controlled by the main military intelligence service GRU (Spetsnaz GRU). It also describes task forces of other ministries (such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs‘ ODON and Ministry of Emergency Situations‘ special rescue unit) in post-Soviet countries. Russian special forces wear different berets depending on the branch of the armed forces they belong to. These include:
As Spetsnaz is a Russian term, it is typically associated with the special units of Russia, but other post-Soviet states often refer to their special forces units by the term as well, since these nations also inherited their special purpose units from the now-defunct Soviet security agencies. The 5th Spetsnaz Brigade of Belarus is an example of a non-Russian Spetsnaz forces.