Spetsnaz (Russian: спецназ, IPA: [spʲɪtsˈnas]), abbreviation for Войска специа́льного назначе́ния, tr. Voyska spetsialnogo naznacheniya pronounced [vɐjˈska spʲɪtsɨˈalʲnəvə nəznɐˈtɕenʲɪjə] (English: Special Purpose Forces or Special Purpose Military Units), is an umbrella term for special forces in Russian and is used in numerous post-Soviet states.
Historically, the term referred to special military units controlled by the military intelligence service GRU (Spetsnaz GRU). It also describes special purpose units, or 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.
As Spetsnaz is a Russian term, it is typically associated with the special forces units of Russia; but other post-Soviet states often refer to their special forces by the term as well since they inherited their special purpose units from the now-defunct Soviet security agencies. The 5th Spetsnaz Brigade of Belarus or the Alpha Group of the Security Service of Ukraine are both such examples of non-Russian Spetsnaz forces.