Special purpose units under the command of the Russian Federation (former Soviet Union) military intelligence bureau (GRU).

Their duties include espionage, reconnaissance, sabotage, assassination, and kidnapping. The unites are recognized for using a number of distinctive weapons including the Spetsnaz knife.

The precursors of the Spetsnaz were the independent special service units established in 1950. Because of their efforts in research and development of weapons and assassination methods, the Spetsnaz were one of the most lethal and feared organizations of the Cold War in the Sixties. Though the Soviet Army was gradually reduced in size, the Spetsnaz remained one of its key forces.

The Spetsnaz were responsible for surveillance and sabotage during the Soviet-Afghan War and the subsequent civil war.